SOEs declared for seven parishes

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States of Emergency (SOEs) have been declared for the parishes of St Catherine, Clarendon, and parts of Kingston and St Andrew as well as the tri-parish area of St James, Westmoreland, and Hanover.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement a short while ago during a media briefing now underway at Jamaica House.

The prime minister said the SOEs was declared following the recommendation of the security chiefs amidst worrying signs of an increase in criminal activities including gang activities.

Holness said an increased threat to property and public disorder have also been detected.

He said the approach of the Christmas season also requires the deployment of greater resources that the security forces do not have.

“And, therefore, the government has to act in a proactive way. The government has to act in such a way as to maximize the resources that we have to save lives and property from the threats that exist,” he said.

“The underlying threat is such that it will cause an increase in the number of murders and homicides that we see going into the next few weeks and indeed we have seen an increase in murders over the last six months,” the prime minister added.

“What we have seen in gang activities in these areas is indeed cause for grave concern,” he continued.

The SOEs will remain in force for an initial two weeks, after which parliamentary approval is needed to extend the security measure for up to three months at a time.

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