Activities in ZOSOs to be Maintained until Normality is Restored

Photo: Rudranath Fraser Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness. (FILE)

Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is reassuring that activities, particularly social interventions, which are conducted in communities adversely impacted by crime and violence and are declared Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs), will be maintained until normality is restored in those areas.
  • Mr. Holness, who cited misinterpretations of the 60-day timeline in the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act by some persons, explained that this is not the expiration time of the Zone, “but the time that (we) should go to Parliament, if we decide to continue”.
  • He said that with the requisite resources, “we should be able to bring those communities under the programme of Zones of Special Operations and make a significant impact in the medium to long term on the trajectory of crime in the country”.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is reassuring that activities, particularly social interventions, which are conducted in communities adversely impacted by crime and violence and are declared Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs), will be maintained until normality is restored in those areas.

“We will stay with the communities for as long as it takes for them to be normalised. It won’t be so much what we do in the initial phase, but moreso the social interventions (thereafter),” Mr. Holness emphasised.

The Prime Minister was speaking at an Office of the Prime Minister-Live (OPM-Live) mini town hall meeting at Jamaica College in St. Andrew on Wednesday, November 29.

Mr. Holness, who cited misinterpretations of the 60-day timeline in the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act by some persons, explained that this is not the expiration time of the Zone, “but the time that (we) should go to Parliament, if we decide to continue”.

He indicated that the timeline for the initial ZOSO in Mount Salem, St. James, has been extended, adding that “it is likely that we will renew the Zone in Denham Town (West Kingston) until we are certain that all the threats to the safety and security of the environment have been removed”.

Meanwhile, Mr. Holness advised that 20 communities, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the crime occurring islandwide, have been identified.

He said that with the requisite resources, “we should be able to bring those communities under the programme of Zones of Special Operations and make a significant impact in the medium to long term on the trajectory of crime in the country”.

The Prime Minister, in response to a question, indicated that the extent of security engagements in the Denham Town ZOSO, relative to the Christmas season, would be determined by the joint command of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) and Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF).

“I believe that they have been operating in such a way as to promote the cohesion and the good spirit within the community. So, I think that they will be responsible and very smart in what they are doing,” he added.

Mr. Holness acknowledged that creating a culture of peace in communities adversely affected by crime “does take some time…and hand-holding”.

He said that in a number of cases, this will require key provisions to facilitate this undertaking.

“It means that we have to be training persons. We have to facilitate persons being able to get their IDs, for example… to get their health checks, to deal with the parenting issues that exist, and to deal with the informal settlements that may exist in those communities. All of those things take time,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

Mr. Holness reiterated that the ZOSO is not a knee-jerk response to crime, and emphasised that development of the attendant logistics to ensure the initiative fulfils its ultimate targets of preserving life and creating a safe and secure environment “takes a very long time”.

He reminded that the ZOSOs are designed to be a medium- to long-term measure to enhance public safety and security.

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