Jamaica Information Service – The Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in Mount Salem, St James; and Denham Town in West Kingston will be extended by a further 60 days.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 17) approved two Resolutions for the extensions, which were moved by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.
This will be the sixth extension for the Mount Salem Zone, the first to become operational on September 1, 2017, while it will be the fifth for Denham Town.
The Prime Minister said the Government has been making significant progress with crime reduction in some communities, noting that there are growing assurances of the permanency of peace, for which the residents of Mount Salem and Denham Town have been yearning.
“That peace is also having a positive impact on the entire country. We only need to look back at the activities of the corresponding periods of 2017, when many of these communities experienced record cases of murders and serious crimes, which created menacing conditions for too many Jamaicans,” he noted.
Mr. Holness said the Government continues to engage in and consider a number of special security measures, which he said, to a large extent, have had a positive result.
“Nevertheless, we also accept that despite the best intentions of the Government, these interventions will fail in the absence of cooperation and harmony of purpose. We must, in this House, act in unison on matters of crime reduction and public safety and guard these positive early results,” he emphasised.
The Prime Minister said following the passage of the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, the Government has successfully commenced the work that was necessary to transform the Denham Town and Mount Salem communities.
He noted that since that time, both Zones have signalled a turning point in terms of the impact of focused special measures in these spaces.
“This is because, fundamentally, the effort has equally combined security and social intervention to achieve meaningful and sustainable change. Most importantly, the effort has received support of the residents of the communities, and they are the primary beneficiaries and, indeed, the primary stakeholders,” Mr. Holness said.
The Prime Minister said to date, crime-prevention programmes and strategies continue to bring order to both communities.
“This includes changes and improvements to community infrastructure, culture and the physical environment. The approaches that we have used combine various agencies, the church…civil society, the private sector to bring to bear the combined efforts by improving these communities to bring order in the lives of the people,” Mr. Holness said.
He noted that the programmes in the Zones have been assessed as being effective and “there is no reason to discontinue the work being done”.
The Prime Minister informed that there has been an overall reduction in homicides and, particularly, firearm-related incidents in the communities.
“We continue to make significant improvements in both communities… in road improvements and rehabilitation. The regularisation of utilities continues, drain cleaning and removal of solid waste – this is continuing and, in fact, we have developed a system of environmental wardens,” Mr. Holness said.
Other social interventions implemented include a block-making project, back-to-school support programme, schoolwide behaviour-modification programme, summer camps and parenting-support programmes.
“I am particularly pleased that as a result of the Zones of Special Operations, citizens of both Mount Salem and Denham Town are now not just Jamaicans by virtue of being born here, but they are Jamaicans with papers… they have their identification cards,” Mr. Holness told the House.
The Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act gives the Prime Minister power to declare an area a ZOSO in order to tackle increased crime and volatility. This is in consultation with the National Security Council.
The Zone can only be established after the Police Commissioner and the Chief of Defence Staff make a request for such a declaration in writing to the Prime Minister.
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