JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 1) approved the extension of the State of Public Emergency (SOE) for the South St. Andrew Police Division until January 4, 2020.
  • The SOE for the division was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Sunday, July 7, 2019.
  • In his address to the House, Mr. Holness reiterated that the SOE is not a long-term solution to fighting crime.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday (October 1) approved the extension of the State of Public Emergency (SOE) for the South St. Andrew Police Division until January 4, 2020.

The SOE for the division was announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on Sunday, July 7, 2019.

In his address to the House, Mr. Holness reiterated that the SOE is not a long-term solution to fighting crime.

“It is a solution that has yielded results, and we are well aware of the challenges and the downsides to the SOEs. We have done everything possible and we continue to be vigilant to ensure that the downside of the SOE is not such that it outweighs the benefit of the SOE,” he said.

The Prime Minister noted that between April 14 and July 6 (84-day period before the SOE was put in place), there were 53 murders in St. Andrew South.

“In the comparative period in 2018, there were 29 murders. Since the SOE has been in place for 84 days, we have had 22 murders. I wouldn’t argue [whether the SOE has done enough], but we could all agree that it has more than cut in half the number of murders in the parish,” he said.

“We have saved, by virtue of the collective action of this House by putting in place the SOE… 30 lives. There were 51 shootings in the 84 days before the SOE – that is down to 27,” Mr. Holness added.

He further argued that the SOE continues “to bring us results if it is used judiciously”.

The Prime Minister noted that it is very important that criminals understand that there is a consensus among lawmakers to have a firm handle on crime.

“We have started a process of bringing down our murder rate from 1,600 in [2017]… . We have now brought it down to 1,280 [in 2018] and if we continue, we will bring down our murder rate to below 1,000,” Mr. Holness said.

The SOE gives the security forces temporary additional powers, including powers of search, arrest and detention.

During the SOE, the security forces will have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, restrict access to places and detain persons without a warrant.