Mon | Oct 22, 2018

Murders Down - PM says State of Emergency reducing rate of killings islandwide

Published:Wednesday | July 18, 2018 | 12:00 AMBrian Walker/Staff Reporter

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that the state of emergency (SOE) in St James has been instrumental in the reduction of the average daily murder rate across the island.

All 52 members of parliament who were present yesterday voted in favour of the resolution to extend the SOE for an additional 90 days.

"... The argument is that it's only for St James that the state of emergency has been effective," said Holness. "But if you look, you will see that at the point of the declaration of the state of emergency, the average daily murders have fallen from 4.65 to 3.44, nationally. So it is cumulative ... ," he added.

Holness disclosed that during the state of emergency from January 1 to July 7, 2018, the St James Police Division accounted for 51 murders, a 67 per cent decrease when compared to the corresponding period in 2017. The SOE was prompted by 336 murders in the parish last year.

The prime minister noted that 46 firearms have been recovered in St James as at July 13, but he warned that the removal of these weapons should not be seen as significant compared to the quantity of weapons estimated to be still on the streets.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips expressed concern about the costs associated with the SOE.

He argued that based on figures presented by the prime minister, the cost of the operations by the Jamaica Constabulary Force alone was $31 million per month "so in the seven months we're looking in the order of a quarter-billion dollars for St James."

The current SOE in St James expires on August 2 and the extension will run through to October 31.

The prime minister also secured the House's approval of the extension of the zones of special operations in Denham Town, west Kingston, and North St Catherine for 60 days.

brian.walker@gleanerjm.com