Succeeding ministers of national security and their governments have continuously told the country about their dissatisfaction with the state of crime and about plans, strategies, including police and army patrols, and their intention to make a difference. The fact that present Minister of National Security, Brig John Sandy, told reporters that the recent increase in murders “was disturbing and saddening to the Prime Minister and Government,” is indicative of a mission unaccomplished. In the same vein as his predecessors, Mr Sandy moved from there to seek to assure that “there is an increased law-enforcement operation with immediate effect.” Further, he said the security forces would “be targeting the areas in which these killings have been occurring with frequency and there will be an increase in our joint patrols in an effort to infiltrate those areas.”
All of that reads quite familiarly, going back two or three national security ministers. Joining him with the same kind of promises, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan sounded even more vague and in a fantasy land: “measured progress which is cause for quiet optimism.” He went on to venture what could be described as no more than a “hope” of results under the anti-gang legislation in the future. At another level, the war of words between Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs and Sgt Anand Ramesar of the Police Social Welfare Association continued. This time the CoP is baiting the association to come up with ideas to fight crime rather than simply being critical of Sgt Ramesar. As he has said on a number of occasions, Sgt Ramesar wants Mr Gibbs to vacate his position because of his alleged failure to make a difference in the crime situation. What is clearly lacking, even when the 21st-century police initiative is considered, is dynamic action to prevent and prosecute criminal activities when they happen. There is, too, a desperate need to dismantle the gangs and to engage in no-nonsense police work.
Further, there must be meaningful social intervention to dramatically reduce the flow on the conveyor belt of young criminals coming through to take up the slack when two or three of their predecessors are taken out of circulation in one way or another. The population must surely prefer to read and hear less of plans and programmes and far more of action, and see and feel the difference that makes to their neighbourhoods and their personal sense of security. Meanwhile, Brig Sandy and the top echelons of the Police Service are hanging on to statistical reduction in the numbers of serious crimes—that is, outside of the category of homicides, the figures for which have risen dramatically over the last month.
This state of affairs, with the population hanging on, waiting, hoping for the security forces to take charge, having smashed the gangs and gained control of the guns and curtailed the drug trade, cannot continue indefinitely.
In addition to the unease of ordinary citizens, several spokesmen for the business community, the Governor of the Central Bank and other economists have been noting that the climate of the day is not encouraging for investment. The People’s Partnership Government had a 100-day crime plan. It made a retired brigadier national security minister and has had 24 months to make a real difference. Would a survey of ordinary citizens—those who are regularly the victims of crime—show they feel any safer today than they did under previous governments? The response would probably not differ much from what it was two years ago.