The House of Representatives has approved a 60-day extension of the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs).
The areas are Denham Town, West Kingston; Norwood and Mount Salem, St. James; and Greenwich Town, Parade Gardens and August Town in St. Andrew, and Savanna-la-Mar in Westmoreland.
Resolutions for the extensions were moved by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang, in the House on June 14.
Dr. Chang said there have been no reports of criminal activity in all zones in the last week, noting that this is an indication that the work being done by the police is having a positive impact.
With respect to the operations and community building strategy, Dr. Chang said Mount Salem and Denham Town will continue into the build phase, “while Greenwich Town, August Town, Norwood, Parade Gardens and Savanna-la-Mar will continue the hold phase, moving quickly into the build phase”.
“Outlook in all the communities is positive, as there is not only a major reduction [in crime] but over the last 10 days there has not been a single shooting incident in any of these communities,” Dr. Chang said.
He further informed that targeted crime-prevention programmes are being implemented in vulnerable communities across the island.
“The use of enhanced security measures, such as the ZOSOs, ensure that the relevant security assets and resources are concentrated within these communities to reduce criminal violence and improve the living conditions of the residents,” Dr. Chang noted.
Meanwhile, the Minister said that the Government has plans to amend the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, to enable ZOSOs to be extended for six months, instead of the current 60-day timeline.
The 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.
A 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.
The areas are designed to reduce crime and violence through community development, while providing equal opportunity to social intervention and social transformation initiatives within these communities.