The House of Representatives on July 21 approved five Emergency Powers Resolutions to extend the current states of public emergency (SOEs) until September 3.
States of public emergency have been imposed in Hanover, St James, Westmoreland, Clarendon, St. Catherine, Kingston East, Kingston Central, Kingston Western, and St. Andrew South.
In his address, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said the country has managed to maintain an overall 13 per cent reduction in serious crimes over the comparative period last year, as at July 18.
“For the same period, all serious crimes recorded reductions. We have a three per cent reduction in murder, 11 per cent reduction in shootings, 16 per cent reduction in rape, 12 per cent reduction in robberies and a 24 per cent reduction in break-ins,” Mr. Holness informed.
He noted that while these enhanced security measures were never meant to be a silver bullet, “we cannot discount their value in saving lives”.
“We are still not where we would want to be, as our homicide rate is still higher than that of the global and regional averages, but it is important that we maintain this momentum as we continue to develop the capacity of the security forces,” the Prime Minister said.
He noted that all areas under the SOEs have recorded reductions in murders and shootings.
“For the comparative 173 days prior to the state of public emergency to the present, the Kingston Eastern Police Division experienced an overall reduction in murders and shootings by 55 per cent and 69 per cent [respectively],” Mr. Holness said.
He explained that murders in that police division have declined from 44 to 20, year-on-year, and shootings have fallen from 51 to 16 as at July 19. He also noted that eight firearms have been recovered and 87 rounds of ammunition were seized.
In terms of Clarendon and St. Catherine, there has been an overall reduction in murders and shootings.
“We have seen a 22 per cent reduction in murders, moving from 310 to 241, and for shootings a 25 per cent reduction, moving from 285 to 214. And… as at July 19, 54 firearms and 1,537 rounds of ammunition were seized, 1,560 persons were arrested and charged and 15 persons remain in custody,” Mr. Holness informed.
In terms of St. Andrew South Police Division, there was a four per cent reduction in murders and 12 per cent reduction in shootings.
For the period before the SOE, 163 murders were committed and in the period since the SOE, there have been 156 murders. There were 162 shootings in the period before the SOE, and 142 since it came into effect.
Regarding St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover, Mr. Holness said there has been a 24 per cent reduction in murders, moving from 374 to 285 and a 25 per cent reduction in shootings, moving from 376 to 281.
“If you were to take St. James alone, St. James is now experiencing the lowest murder rate in 17 years,” Mr. Holness stated.
Forty-eight members of the House of Representatives voted in favour of extending the SOEs.
The Senate is to vote on the extension on Friday, July 24.