The Government says the state of public emergency that was declared on January 18 in the parish of St James has resulted in an “obvious downward trend in the national daily murder rate”.
This was disclosed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness who said: “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”.
The prime minister was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, where the Emergency Powers (Continuance) Resolution 2018 was passed, extending the State of Public Emergency in St James until November 1, 2018.
All 52 members of the Lower House who were present voted unanimously in favour of the motion. Eleven members were absent.
Holness noted that there were 51 murders in the police division for the period January 1 to July 7, representing a 67 per cent decrease when compared to the corresponding period last year.
“The actions of the security forces have had a significant impact on reducing the opportunities for gangs to engage in criminality and to move freely within the space,” the prime minister said. He further noted that as recent as last Friday “a significant person of interest” was intercepted and arrested at a checkpoint.
Additionally, Holness informed that the security forces are going after more wanted persons and the financiers and main facilitators of crimes.
St James recorded 335 murders and 255 shooting incidents in 2017, the majority of which occurred within traditional hotspots.
Up to the June 30, a total of 2,729 persons were detained in the parish, with 175 charged for various crimes.
Twenty-five were charged for murder, 27 for shooting with intent, 13 for robbery, 10 for rape, 28 for other sexual offences, and there were 72 other charges.
The prime minister informed that 20 persons have been detained or charged as gang leaders or members of gangs and 46 illegal firearms were recovered, many of which were directly linked to gang leaders and members.
During the state of public emergency, the security forces will have the power to search, curtail operating hours of business, restrict access to places and detain persons without a warrant.
It also gives them power to stop and question persons and power to seize property. It allows them to control public gatherings and control movements.