Don't pump up the volume — Chang

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Don't pump up the volume — Chang

Security minister warns that extended lock off time for parties is not a licence to 'disturb neighbours'

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, December 12, 2019

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MINISTER of National Security Dr Horace Chang is adamant that the decision to temporarily extend the time allowed for entertainment events, does not represent open season for persons to “disturb their neighbours”.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved a Bill which temporarily amends the Noise Abatement Act and allows entertainment events, which now have to end by midnight on weekdays, to go until 2:00 am. On weekends the closing time for these events will be extended from 2:00 am to 4:00 am.

Entertainment events, such as parties, dances and stage shows can also go until 6:00 am if there are no complaints from residents about disturbance. The Bill is to be debated in the Senate tomorrow and, if senators give their approval, it will be implemented immediately.

But, speaking at a media briefing at Jamaica House yesterday, Chang underscored that the police will continue to monitor the entertainment events and respond to calls from residents who are affected by high decibels.

“This Bill is a temporary short-term measure to provide for an extension of the time permissible for entertainment events over the festive season, while ensuring that public order laws and regulations can be strictly carried out, notwithstanding the extension,” said Chang as he noted that the change is until January 31, 2020.

“As a Government we are seeking to create the necessary balance between the continued growth of our music and entertainment industries while maintaining public order, safety and the well-being of the general public,” added Chang.

According to the security minister, Government is working to create sound ordinances to allow a comprehensive review of the Noise Abatement Act, but while that is being done the extension will be allowed for the increase in entertainment events which usually takes place over the festive season.

“This Bill will give us a temporary solution to ensure that we are providing the environment which acknowledges the social needs of our people in music, entertainment, church or political events, while preserving the right for non-disturbance and peaceful rest for others,” said Chang.

He warned that entertainment events which disturb the neighbours can still be shut down by the police despite having permission to continue until later.

“Organisers of these events must put in place the necessary measures to ensure that the level of the sound does not cause disturbance. If they do [cause disturbance] the public order regulations will be enforced without any hesitation.

“In plain language, if you exceed the sound levels and disturb the citizens in neighbouring areas, despite having permission to go until four, the police will have the right to lock it off. And in view of the fact that there will be increased events over the next eight weeks, I suspect that the police will not have the time to give you a warning,” declared Chang.

He told the media briefing that once events exceed the sound levels the police will shut them down on the first occasion. If the music is turned on after this the police will apply the law and seize the sound equipment.

“I want the entertainers…to understand that if the police do this it is not malice, it is my guidance. If you exceed the decibel level they turn it off, if you turn it on back they will take your equipment. I don't like the idea of taking equipment because modern equipment is very sensitive and they can damage easily but the reality is that the law is very important,” said Chang.


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