MP Chaguanas East Constituency
A United Nations study, which was launched in Port-of-Spain yesterday, reports that only 25 per cent of the population either feel secure or “very secure” in Trinidad and Tobago, while just under 53 per cent have confidence in the police to control crime. These are among the findings of the Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Both the “security perception” and police confidence scores for this country were among the lowest cited in the study which spanned seven Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries—Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Official figures covering the period 1990—2010 place this country second in per capita homicide rates (35.2 per 100,000 and declining, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime), behind Jamaica (also declining at 52.1 in 2010) and ahead of Saint Lucia (25.2), which is trending upward. A team led by Director of the UWI (Mona) Institute of Criminal Justice and Security, Prof Anthony Harriott surveyed 11,555 persons in the seven countries and held consultations with 450 experts in 2010 to come up with the findings of the report. Official statistics were also used as part of the analysis. An overview of the report suggests “the elevated rates of violent crime in the Caribbean may be taken as evidence of social inequalities that restrict the choices to large sections of the vulnerable population.” “Crime may thus rightly be regarded as being a profoundly developmental problem,” the report says.
As a consequence, the report proposes a variety of measures which acknowledges that “human development, human rights and citizen security are interdependent.” The UNDP Citizen Security Survey found that a regional average of 46 per cent of citizens either felt secure or very secure. Barbados led with 79 per cent while Trinidad and Tobago trailed with 25 per cent. Among the youth, the regional “security perception” average was 40 per cent and the survey reports that as many as 19.4 per cent of them had been victims of some form of crime over the past ten years. Caribbean confidence in the police to control crime averaged 66 per cent. In Trinidad and Tobago, 52.7 per cent expressed “some amount of confidence” in the police and 4.6 per cent said they had “a great deal of confidence.” The survey findings on “self-reported criminal victimisation” placed this country fourth in the list of countries, with 10.2 per cent of those surveyed claiming they had reported crimes committed against them. The leading country in this area of concern was Antigua and Barbuda with 11.2 per cent.
Second was Saint Lucia with 10.9 per cent and Barbados, which scores high on its social intervention programmes, was third with 10.8 per cent. This generated some surprise among researchers involved in the project, given Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago’s high profile for violent crime. The main recommendations proposed by the report include actions to reduce victimisation, reduce risk and build youth resilience, control street gangs and organised crime, transform the police, reform the justice system and build capacity for “evidence based policy.