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Depoliticisation of crime a step to move forward
Independent Senator Helen Drayton has re-focused national attention on the obvious politicisation that has gone on with fighting crime. In this respect Senator Drayton is calling on the Parliament to come together to relieve the society of this scourge that has engulfed the national community in fear for more than a decade.
It is a call that has much merit, and it requires the representatives of the people and the constitutionally appointed members of the Senate to sink partisan interests and work for the wider community. Leader of the Opposition Dr Keith Rowley earlier this week called for the different sides of the Parliament to work together. Inevitably, this would require that the Parliament co-operates as a unit, since bringing crime under control might require amendments to legislation that needed a special majority, or even reform of the 1976 Republican Constitution.
Ultimately though, making any positive and long-term impact on reducing crime must mean tackling the core causes of the development and expansion of the criminal culture. While the institutions of government, religion, the school system and other agents of socialisation share in the responsibility and so must be part of the solution, it is quality parenting which sets the child on the right pathway.
As the Archbishop of Port-of-Spain, His Grace Joseph Harris, recently reminded the country, it is the home, the family and quality parenting that shape the individual. Nonetheless, this government—as has been the case with previous governments—was elected on the basis that it said it had the solutions to crime. In fact crime has been a significant platform basis for governments elected over the last two decades.
Yet when in office, governments have failed to make any significant difference and then have resorted to blaming the other party.
That failure is an element of the politicisation of crime that Senator Drayton speaks about. Major amongst the failings and part of what any government has to get right is the clear inability of succeeding police administrations to equip, motivate and organise the service for the job at hand. The previous government thought there was need for outside leadership of the service, but this government systematically made it impossible for the two Canadians to stay.
Out-of-control crime has other consequences, too. As has been identified by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, crime is costing big in tourism revenues lost and the country’s reputation sullied. As for the loss and trauma suffered by the general community and the relatives of the victims of crime, it cannot be quantified in dollars and cents. One of the sure pathways that those countries which have become “failed states” have followed is the failure to manage crime.
As it is, criminals are carrying out their nefarious activities in broad daylight even in the middle of Port-of-Spain. That is indicative of a loss of control. Co-operation at all levels to counter crime is the only option available. This may be T&T’s last train to redemption.
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