Jamaica Information Service – Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang, is reporting a 69 per cent reduction in the murder rate in the St. Catherine North Police Division up to June 19, as a result of the State of Public Emergency (SOE) declared in the area.
Dr. Chang was delivering the main address at the National Housing Trust (NHT)/Social Development Commission (SDC) St. Catherine Leadership Council meeting on June 21 at Twickenham Park in St. Catherine.
“North St. Catherine had in the first 12 weeks (of this year) some 49 homicides, with at least five murders per week. With the introduction of the SOE, we are down to about one per week. That is still too much, but it is a dramatic fall-off,” the Minister said.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, declared an SOE in the St. Catherine North Division on March 18 of this year. This after homicides in the division two months into 2018 climbed to over 40. This was an increase of 25 per cent when compared to the same period last year.
Dr. Chang said that for other sections of the island, there has been a significant reduction in homicides, overall, in high-impact areas resulting from the operational activities associated with the enhanced security measures in sections of St. James, West Kingston and St. Catherine under the SOE and the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs).
There has been an overall 9.9 per cent reduction in homicides and a 25 per cent reduction in major crimes, compared to the same period last year, the Minister pointed out.
“In St. James, the murder rate has been reduced by about 65 per cent compared with last year. We have moved from a figure of about 143 to 86 less than last year, which is a major impact in a small community of a population of about 200,000 persons,” he noted.
Dr. Chang attributes the reduction in murders to the declaration of the SOE and the recovery of approximately 38 illegal firearms and more than 916 rounds of ammunition.