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Carnival 2013 a major success—senior cop
Carnival 2013 has been described as a major success by the Police Service and Defence Force. But speaking at a press conference yesterday, Deputy Police Commissioner Raymond Craig could provide no statistics when asked how many shootings, stabbings and other serious crimes there had been over the Carnival period.
Craig, the gold commander in charge of this year’s Carnival security arrangements throughout the country, could only say there were very minimal incidents, but could not back up his statements with figures. He said these would be provided to the media at a later date. “We are collating those figures, we haven’t finished as yet but we are seeing significant reduction,” he said.
The briefing took place at the Ministry of National Security, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain. Carnival preparations, Craig said, included various stakeholders, among them vendors who helped to ensure there was a smooth flow of bands through Port-of-Spain. In Woodbrook, no music boxes were allowed in bars which resulted in large crowds not being able to congregate in the road.
“In the past you had DJs setting up their apparatus and then it would grow to 4,000 to 5,000 people in small areas and it would be difficult to police, particularly when darknesss fell and then there would be a lot of stabbings,” Craig said. “That would have contributed significantly to a reduction in the number of stabbings we had this year, as against last year, and unruly behaviour.” He said bandleaders were more compliant this year, especially with music trucks.
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams said there had been more than 3,800 police on the streets. He said this figure did not take into account the number manning the stations. Williams said there had also been contingency plans in place in the event of police calling in sick. No statistics were provided on how many failed to report for duty on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
Asked why such a high level of security could not be sustained throughout the year, Williams said the police were working to implement a strategy to ensure greater crime reduction. “If you are looking at the number of officers engaged on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, as against the number of officers only engaged on the Thursday and Friday following Carnival, and any other day, there are obvious reasons why that would not happen,” he said.
“For Carnival, government offices are basically shut down, police officers are called out from vacations and days off to work for Carnival, so the demand is a special demand for a special event.” He said, however, there would be a heightened police presence throughout the country. “We intend to increase our numbers on the highways, on the streets...across all communities,” he said.
Also speaking was National Security Minister Jack Warner, who said the combined presence of soldiers and police had led to a successful Carnival. He thanked them for their diligence and hard work, saying their efforts were the result of strategic planning.