Security minister cautions against weakening of ZOSOsWednesday, October 14, 2020
SECURITY Minister Dr Horace Chang is cautioning against the weakening of the zone of special operations (ZOSO) programme, now running in four communities across the country, amid an increase in calls for its expansion.
He was speaking yesterday in the House of Representatives which approved extensions for ZOSOs currently running in Mount Salem, Denham Town, Greenwich Town, and August Town.
A ZOSO is aimed at curbing the nation's crime through security force occupation of vulnerable communities and intense social intervention.
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips and St Ann South Eastern Member of Parliament Lisa Hanna were among those batting for the expansion of the programme into other troubled communities.
“We call for an extension into critical communities aimed at staunchly quelling, containing, overcoming the wave of murders that threatens to overwhelm us now and which is a dagger to the well-being of the society and the economy...,” said Phillips.
But Chang cautioned against “diluting” the crime-fighting strategy, while reiterating that although some 20 to 25 communities meet the criteria for ZOSOs, the resources available to the Government are limited.
He also said that at best, the programme could only accommodate some six more communities if ZOSOs are to run simultaneously.
“One of the things we have to be careful of is that the zones of special operations does exactly what we say it should. Therefore, as a special programme, we must be careful that we do not dilute in initiating development programmes,” he stated.
Hanna had argued that the social intervention and development components of ZOSO are desperately needed in other communities.
“It's a combination of security and development,” said Chang “but it is dedicated to a number of particularly challenged communities.”
The minister said while communities remain in need of the measure, resources in terms of security personnel are lacking.
He said, too, that the Government does not yet have the budget to facilitate further expansion of the programme.
The security minister said with the expectation of international agencies and partners getting involved, over time, the programme is likely to expand.
At that time, he said the aim will be to have the social intervention component at the forefront of the operation.
In July, Prime Minister Andrew Holness had said that up to 20 communities across the island met the criteria for a ZOSO, and funds were set aside in the budget for this fiscal year for ZOSOs.
— Kimone Francis