States of Public Emergency (SOE) have been declared across the entire parishes of Hanover and St. James as well as St. Catherine and Clarendon. This crucial decision, announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, underscores the government’s commitment to the safety and security of Jamaicans.
The Governor-General, His Excellency Sir Patrick Allen, authorized these SOEs upon the advice of the Commissioner of Police and the Chief of Defence Staff. The SOEs will initially last for 14 days, commencing at 12:01 on November 23, 2023.
Major General Antony Anderson, Commissioner of Police, outlined the alarming situation in these divisions: “The Clarendon Police Division recorded the fifth-highest number of murders (99) among all police divisions, marking a 14% increase compared to the same period in 2022. Clarendon and St. Catherine, being adjoining parishes, intensify our concerns, accounting for 24% of the nation’s murders since the beginning of the year.”
“In the St. James police division, the highest number of murders across all divisions was recorded, totaling one hundred and sixty-nine (169) from January 1 to November 15, 2023. This division also experienced the highest number of shooting incidents, totaling one hundred and one (101) during the same period. The adjacency of St. James and Hanover further exacerbates the situation, with their combined geographical area accounting for twenty percent (20%) of the nation’s murders since the year’s start.”
Rear Admiral Antonette Wemyss-Gorman, Chief of Defence Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), expressed firm support for the declaration. “The JDF is dedicated to working alongside the JCF to stabilize these parishes,” she stated.
Dr Horace Chang, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, urged the public to perceive these measures as a united stand against crime. “We call on citizens nationwide to back these efforts. Together, as a nation, we can triumph over these criminal elements,” he emphasized.
Prime Minister Holness stressed the vital role of community cooperation in cauterizing crime. “The cooperation of every Jamaican is essential. We must unite to ensure our nation’s safety. These measures are temporary but critical in augmenting the efforts of our security forces, which have yielded significant results. The government continues to invest in enhancing our nation’s security infrastructure,” he stated.
“The SOEs enable the security forces, including the JDF, to conduct targeted operations aimed at dismantling criminal networks and curbing murders. The government assures the public that the safety and security of all Jamaicans remain its highest priority.”
The boundaries for the SOEs encompass the entire parishes of Hanover, St. James, St. Catherine, and Clarendon.