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  • The State of Public Emergency (SOE) in sections of the Kingston Central, Kington Western, and St. Andrew South Police Divisions will continue for another three months, until January.

The State of Public Emergency (SOE) in sections of the Kingston Central, Kington Western, and St. Andrew South Police Divisions will continue for another three months, until January.

The Emergency Powers (Continuance) Resolution 2018 was approved unanimously in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 2

On September 23, Prime Minister the Most Andrew Holness, declared the SOE in sections of the Kingston Central, Kington Western, and St. Andrew South Police Divisions.

In his remarks, Mr. Holness said the informed opinion of the security forces has been that the level of criminal activity experienced continues to be a threat in certain areas.

He noted that during assessments undertaken regarding communities affected by gang warfare and violent crimes, several communities within the geographic area in question emerged among the top 10, with respect to murder and shooting incidents, over the year 2017 and as at September 30, 2018.

“In Trench Town, for example… that community had a combined total of 100 murders and shootings. That was the highest of any community and that was in 2017. Whitfield Town in St. Andrew South had the third highest of 67, and Tivoli Gardens in Kingston West had the fifth highest combined total of 43 murders and shootings,” the Prime Minister informed.

“For the period January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2018, Trench Town recorded the highest combined total of murders and shootings in the country, with 55; Whitfield Town recorded he fourth highest total of 34 and Tivoli Gardens recorded the sixth highest of 32 murders and shootings combined,” he added.

The Prime Minister noted that the Government is committed to retaking and transforming Kingston.

He pointed out that the State of Public Emergency will facilitate the operations of the security forces in dismantling the plethora of gangs that are operating in the affected areas.

“Many of these gangs are currently embroiled in feuds that have left communities tense and have adversely affected the livelihood of citizens in neighbouring communities. The impact of these gangs is not confined to the specific area in which they reside, but their reach is far and wide, extending to all parishes,” Mr. Holness said.

The Prime Minister emphasised that the reprisals, counter-reprisals and general gang warfare, which has caused fear and insecurity, cannot be allowed to continue.

“We must, therefore, offer the strongest support for the security forces, within the context that they will be enforcing the laws within the provisions of the laws and to the benefit of our citizens,” Mr. Holness said.

He added that the security forces have done well, thus far, and they have shown through their conduct of operations, both in the SOE and the zones of special operations, that they can use extraordinary powers responsibly.

“This Government expresses its gratitude to the security forces. Many of them have not been able to spend time with their families, [as] they are on duty and on call protecting the people of Jamaica,” Mr Holness said.

The Constitution provides that a period of public emergency can be declared by Proclamation if the Governor-General is satisfied that action has been taken or threatened by any person or body of persons of such a nature and on so extensive a scale as likely to endanger public safety.