Jamaica News-Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says there has been a reduction in the fear of crime among residents in St. James since the implementation of the State of Public Emergency in January.
“Significant progress has been made in rebuilding public trust towards the police across communities within the parish, and the fear of crime is steadily being reduced,” he said.
The Prime Minister was speaking in the House of Representatives on May 1, where the Emergency Powers (Continuance) Resolution 2018, which will extend the State of Public Emergency in St. James until August 2, 2018 was approved.
All 53 members of the Lower House who were present voted unanimously in favour of the motion. Ten members were absent.
Prime Minister Holness said the State of Emergency exercise has portrayed law-enforcement officers, particularly the members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, in a more positive light.
“Communities are saying we want the police here in our community. That is a transformation in thinking. We should try and ensure that this continues,” he said.
The Prime Minister argued that once there is the confidence that the police will act in a way that is respectful of the rights of citizens “then the citizen will provide information to the police on the criminals. This is what is now happening in St. James – the citizens are now prepared to provide the information”.
The Prime Minister called on Jamaicans to take a stance against criminality.
“There was a time when there was ambivalence against criminality, because the criminals claimed to be Robin Hood; they claimed to be protecting the citizens from an evil State. Nowadays, I am making it clear that the Jamaican State protects its people, and the Jamaican people need no protector than the Jamaican State,” he noted.
The Prime Minister declared a State of Public Emergency in the parish of St. James effective Thursday, January 18.
During the State of Public Emergency, the security forces have the power to search, curtail operating hours of businesses and access to places, and to detain persons without a warrant.
In addition, all persons using roads leading in and out of St James will be subject to vehicle and personal search. There will be joint static and mobile patrols and persons may be stopped at various checkpoints.