Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has declared the community of Norwood, in St. James, as a Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO).
Speaking at a virtual press conference on Sunday (June 20), the Prime Minister noted that the ZOSO has become necessary for Norwood, given an analysis of the community which revealed that the area “continues to be characterised by increased gang-related violence and criminal activities.”
“Since the beginning of the year, 15 murders and 14 shootings have occurred (in Norwood). Since 2019, within that community, there have been 66 murders recorded. But more disturbingly, there are six gangs known to be operating within that very small space and those gangs, although they are based in that area, they operate all over St. James,” he said.
Mr. Holness lamented “the levels of crime and violence” being experienced in an area of approximately one square kilometre, with about 11,800 residents.
“The ZOSO will target this area and will bring some peace to the community, and will give an opportunity for that community to turn a new leaf in its existence,” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the overall intention in declaring an additional community in St. James as a ZOSO, “is to ensure that we can deliver social interventions leading to improved living conditions and quality of life of the citizens in that area.”
He added that the declaration is also intended to reduce the exposure of children “to various behaviours and the violence in the area.”
A ZOSO has been in place in the Mt. Salem Police Division, in St. James, since September 1, 2017. Others are also in Denham Town, West Kingston; as well as Greenwich Town and August Town in St Andrew.
A ZOSO is declared under the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act. It seeks to contain crime while safeguarding the human rights of residents and promoting community development through social intervention initiatives.
Mr. Holness reminded that this law under which the zones are declared “was created for upholding and preserving the rule of law, public order, citizen security and public safety within certain geographically defined areas of Jamaica.”
“The law allows for a coherent strategy, utilising inter-Ministerial and inter-agency coordination towards social transformation, with the aim that the people gain confidence in the security forces and trust the justice system, so that a new culture of peace can emerge in a self-sustaining and permanent way,” he said.