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Commissioner suggests rethink of Noise Abatement Act

BY VERNON DAVIDSON Executive editor — publications davidsonv@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, October 31, 2012    

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POLICE Commissioner Owen Ellington believes there is a need to review the Noise Abatement Act because it is limiting the ability of legitimate night commerce to survive.

"We have to rethink the strategy of enforcing a law to the detriment of people enjoying legitimate night activity," Commissioner Ellington told a leadership forum of senior police staff at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel yesterday morning.

"We don't make laws; that's not what we're supposed to do. But we can contribute to the redefining of social order," Ellington said, adding that the police force can say to the Government that these laws are not conducive to a modern society.

Ellington is the latest in a number of prominent individuals calling for a review of the Act which requires entertainment sessions to end at midnight on weekdays and at 2:00 am on weekends.

In March 2011, then National Security Minister Senator Dwight Nelson announced that the Government was reviewing the legislation.

Nelson said that he and the then Culture Minister Olivia Grange were looking at the Noise Abatement Act, the Town and Country Act and any parish council Act in order to amend or redraft them to allow people to enjoy themselves, "to have fun, to secure their rights to have fun without impinging on the rights of others".

A year before that, Public Defender Earl Witter joined the chorus of angry voices calling for a review of the Act, arguing that some latitude should be given to traditional community events, such as the Accompong Town Maroon celebration and the weekly Sunday night Rae Town old hits party where the music is not an annoyance to community members.

Yesterday, Ellington framed his recommendation against the theme of his presentation titled 'The Economic Value of Effective Policing', in which he stated that the police had a duty to ensure that the maintenance of order does not curtail individual liberty.

He said the police are part of the State apparatus that helps to promote domestic tranquility and assure justice, and that they are counted on to protect life, liberty and property from criminal attack.

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