Holness says 17 gangs at war in western Jamaica

May 14, 2019
Prime Minister Andrew Holness
Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Some 17 gangs in the parishes of St James, Westmoreland and Hanover are engaged in open war, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has claimed.

Holness said that 56 gangs were operating in the three parishes that are now under a state of emergency (SOE). Lawmakers last week approved a 90-day extension of the measure, which was set to expire on May 13. It will now continue until July 29.

Prime Minister Holness said the Government has a plan to secure Jamaica. He said reducing the murder rate is one element of that plan.

"Right now, the strategy for the Government is to push the murder rate down. Our target is to get to what is considered - and I hate to use it - 'normal' in the region, 16 per 100,000. We have to set the target and work towards it. I am not saying, Mr Speaker, that this is going to happen in two years or three years. This is more like a 10-year plan - a decade-long plan. And that is why we are making these serious investments. We have moved from $2 billion to $20 billion. That is not an investment in the SOE - that is an investment in building a national security architecture that can adequately address the triple threat - guns, gangs and dons," said Holness.

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