The House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 23) approved a Resolution for the extension of the State of Public Emergency (SOE) in the Kingston Western and Kingston Central Police divisions until July 25.
The SOE, which was declared by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on June 14, was put in place for an initial 14 days, in response to increased criminal activities in those areas.
Moving the Emergency Powers (No.2) (Continuance) Resolution, 2020 in the House, the Prime Minister noted that the declaration allows for wider operational control by linking the existing SOEs in Kingston East and St. Andrew South police divisions to create one continuous geographical space.
“This space will provide an effective security corridor to enable the security forces to strategically maintain control of these areas through a more coordinated and targeted suite of operational responses,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted that implementation of the SOE was crucial given the high level of violent crimes in the divisions, citing the brazen destruction of the “Rae Rae” market in West Kingston, which was set ablaze by arsonists associated with gangs.
“This is but one example of the stark reality and the range and magnitude of the impact of crime and violence in these areas. These developments are of great concern. We cannot turn a blind eye to the people and residents in these areas, who continue to suffer at the hands of these criminals,” he said.
He pointed out that citizens have understood the necessity of the measures and they have been largely supportive.
“Since we have implemented the SOEs, and especially in Central Kingston, the situation in that area and in West Kingston has stabilised and I am expecting to see improvement in the security conditions in those areas,” he said.
The Prime Minister told the House that overall, the SOEs have had a “very significant national impact”, pointing out that when the Zones were first implemented between 2017 and 2018, murders were reduced, resulting in 350 lives being saved.
“I have always maintained that one murder is one too many and there can be no delay in saving lives and protecting the residents and individuals, who are most at risk in these communities,” he said.