The Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) (Amendment) Act, 2021, commonly called the Anti-Gang legislation, was passed in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (June 1), with four amendments.
The legislation will provide additional support to the work of law enforcement in interrupting and undermining organised criminal activity.
In closing the debate, Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said that a strong legislative framework is critical in ensuring sustainable crime reduction.
He acknowledged the members of the Joint Select Committee and the technical team from the Ministry of National Security, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel “for working so collaboratively to ensure that this amended Bill has the level of rigour and relevance to effectively disrupt and dismantle gangs”,
The amendments to the Act specify additional offences for activities in which criminal organisations are engaged, increase the number of offences under the Act, expand the list of aggravating factors to be considered when sentencing an individual convicted of certain offences under the Act, and improve the trial procedures in order to protect the identity of witnesses for connected matters.
The latest statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) show that there are 379 gangs in Jamaica.
Of this number, 262 are considered active gangs, which reflects an increase of five per cent over 2019.