States of Public Emergency Declared in Seven Police Divisions

States of Public Emergency, (SOEs) are now in effect in seven police divisions islandwide to curtail upsurges in violent crimes. Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, announced on Sunday, November 14, that SOEs have been declared in St. Andrew South, Kingston West, Kingston Central, and Kingston East in the Corporate Area, and St. James, Hanover, and Westmoreland.

Speaking during a virtual press conference in the Office of the Prime Minister, (OPM) Prime Minister Holness said that all divisions have seen rises in violent offences, ranging from 16 to 57%.

“All have murder rates per 100,000 in excess of the regional average which is 15 percent. In fact, the murder rate… in these divisions ranges from a low of approximately 47 per 100,000 to 190 per 100,000,” he informed.

“We have decided to recommend the declaration of SOEs having regard to the increase in murders, compared year on year, both in the communities in which we have declared them and nationally. These increases we consider to be of an extensive scale such that they threaten public safety, both in the communities in which the SOEs have been declared and nationally,” he added.

The SOEs, according to Mr. Holness, were also proclaimed because of the type and frequency of violence accompanying the killings and other crimes. The declaration of states of public emergency, according to Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson, is intended to minimize violence and anxiety in the communities as rapidly as possible.

“Anything we can do to reduce the numbers of people being killed is something that we need to do without delay” said the Commissioner of Police.

The Commissioner noted that as of November 12, 2021, Jamaica’s serious crime data shows that we have an increase in murders. He added that shootings have remained, largely, flat, but other crimes are trending downwards. He also notes that this indicates that the country has a violence problem.

“As at Friday, November 12, there were 1,240 victims of murder, 392 of those were killed across the four divisions in Kingston and St. Andrew which represents 2 percent of the national figure. Of the 1,100 persons shot but who were not killed, that region accounted for 391 of the victpercent6 percent of the national figure,” he noted.

The Commissioner noted that in the parishes of St. James, Westmoreland and Hanover, there have been 272 victims of murder which represent 22 percent of the national figure, while 214 were shot and injured, also representing 22 percent of the national figure. Despite the establishment of SOEs, General Anderson stated that further security measures will be implemented across the island.