No party permits for crime-plagued areas
At least three commanders of police divisions have imposed a temporary restriction on the granting of permits for entertainment events, citing an upsurge in violent activities.
Senior Superintendent Robert Gordon of Westmoreland told THE STAR that the decision was a no-brainer as the incidents of gun violence across various sections of the parish have now become a concern.
"The idea is to prevent the gatherings, which will then reduce the probability of these incidents occurring, especially because of the number of multiple incidents [murders] that we have been experiencing here and across the country. Whether the target is there, the gunmen don't seem to care if 20 more persons get hit," he said.
According to police statistics, 41 people have been killed in Westmoreland as of April 3, which is a 127 per cent increase when compared to the 18 murders recorded in 2021 for the corresponding period. Gordon sympathised with the promoters who will have to wait a little longer to earn an income, having already suffered through two years of COVID-19 restrictions. He also said that a review is being done on a decision to restrict permits for parties in Negril.
"What we will do as well, and it is not cast in stone, but we will continuously review the security landscape in all these area. Then we will provide the permits. I cannot issue a permit for people to be dancing and looking over their shoulder. The entire risk assessment has to come into play," he said.
In Trelawny, where murders have increased from three in the first quarter of 2021 to 13 during the corresponding period this year, Superintendent Carlos Russell said that the reopening of the entertainment sector brought risks.
"Based on findings, we have decided that certain areas will not be issued with permits under the Noise Abatement Act. This is based on the recent upsurge of criminal activities within the areas, thus giving the rise to serious security concerns," he said.
Although his St Andrew South division has seen a marked reduction in murders when compared to 2021, Senior Superintendent Kirk Ricketts told THE STAR that there were still concerns.
"There are some areas that have high-level gang conflicts that it would be against public safety to permit certain events where you are going to have large gatherings, and the area is known to have drive-by shootings. So we are going to use whatever legislation we have to keep the communities safe," he said. Ricketts said he also conducted meetings with several promoters, advising them of provisions under the Public Health Act in relation to COVID-19, among other things.