KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – The Jamaica government says it will extend by a further 60 days, the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs) in Denham Town in Kingston, and Mount Salem, St. James, as the country deals with the criminal situation on the island.
National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang told the Senate that as a result, the ZOSOs will remain in effect in the two areas to August 19, and September 7, 2019, respectively.
Chang said that the ZOSOs reflect the shared consensus regarding the attainment of crime reduction through social intervention noting “in my April address, I acknowledged this very fact, noting that all governments have undertaken and have invested considerably in substantial social intervention programs in vulnerable communities over the years. Through Zones, this effort continues.”
Last phase of these ZOSOs
Chang said that the two current ZOSOs in Mount Salem and Denham Town, were operationalized in 2017 and are still in the build phase, adding that this is the longest and last phase of the three-phase strategy.
“Reports from the Social Intervention Committee have indicated that social intervention programs, pursued under various thematic areas, are being successfully executed in a peaceful environment, conducive to community development and continued prosperity,” he said, adding that successes in these areas continue to be manifested by an overall lower crime rate.
In the case of Mount Salem, over a period of 638 days, from September 1, 2017 to May 31, 2019, only three category-one crimes have been reported in the space. They include one aggravated assault, one rape, and a break-in.
No recorded cases of murders
“It is important to note that there have been no recorded cases of murders or shootings since the declaration of the Zone,” the Security Minister said.
He said that during the 638 days prior to the declaration of the Zone, that is, December 3, 2015 to August 31, 2017, there were 38 category-one crimes, inclusive of 16 murders, and 19 incidents of shooting.
In the case of Denham Town, over a period of 593 days, that is, from October 16, 2017 to May 31, 2019, there have been a 58 per cent reduction in murders, a 75 per cent reduction in shootings, a 63 per cent decrease in robberies, an 88 per cent decline in break-ins and a 59 per cent reduction in overall category-one crimes since the declaration of the Zone.
“While our ambitions are much greater than that which has been reported here, we continue to be motivated by the gains we have made so far,” Chang said.
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 Defense Staff make a request for such a declaration in writing to the Prime Minister.