Measures coming to tackle crime in St Andrew South Police Division

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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PRIME Minister Andrew Holness warned yesterday that a “full suite” of actions is being contemplated to deal with the rising levels of violence and murders in the St Andrew South Police Division.

Holness, who was piloting two resolutions extending the current Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in Mt Salem, St James and Denham Town, western Kingston, by a further 60 days, in the House of Representatives, noted that murders in the St Andrew South Police division had already exceeded last year's figures by 24.

The division includes St Andrew South Western as well as large sections of the St Andrew East Central constituency, as well as St Andrew West Central.

Pushed to speak on the police division, specifically, by its St Andrew South West Member of Parliament Angela Brown Burke, Holness admitted that it had become a major security risk with the 24 additional murders committed since 2018.

“The challenge has been clearly the number of communities. It is a very dense area with some of the most dangerous gangs in the country, and proximity to the economic centre [of the Corporate Area],” the prime minister noted.

“That has to be addressed, and I make it clear, I can't give away strategic intent, but I want to signal clearly that I will not allow St Andrew South to get out of hand,” he stated.

He said that a full suite of actions to ensure that St Andrew South “does not get out of control” will be implemented.

Holness closed the debate by thanking the Opposition for their cooperation in passing resolutions to extend the two ZOSOs. However, in response, he acknowledged that while much had been achieved in both zones, the need to extend them for a fourth and a fifth time showed that there was no “quick fix” to crime and violence in the country.

Holness said that with the ZOSOs already achieving an acknowledged level of success in fighting crimes in the areas with a specific strategy, the Government would now have to look at strategies to deal with violence in order to curb both crime and violence.

He said that the Government did not have a policy to specifically address violence in the targeted committees.

“We acknowledge that now we have to address violence as opposed to crime and violence. So if we have been dealing with crime as a specific strategy, we have to deal with violence now,” he assured the Opposition.

“We have to deal with violence now with a specific strategy because all the studies are showing that violence is a disease. It is a disease, and it has the pathology of a disease, and we have to treat it in that way. Unfortunately, within our country we have normalised violence. So we don't even treat it as an abnormality in our culture and our behaviour,” he added.

He also accepted a proposal from Dr Peter Phillips to have a review of the achievements of the ZOSOs, to see whether they are achieving their objectives.

“I take your suggestion that there needs to be a study, and when I go to the National Security Council I will put it on the table about doing a study on the two zones so that we have objective information in order to make further decisions, as we seek to scale them up,” the prime minister responded.

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