For the past two years Joan Quamina was on a public waiting list for knee replacement surgery. Her other option was to pay $85,000 to have it done privately, which she could not afford.
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Sex crimes up by 100 per cent
Police reports of rape, incest and other sexual offences have gone up by 100 per cent in 2012. Deputy Police Commissioner (DCP) Mervyn Richardson, in a telephone interview last night, attributed the increase in reports to a rise in confidence in the Police Service.
He said that from as early as Monday, several new initiatives would be launched by the Police Service to combat crime. “We (the executive of the Police Service) have had some challenges in the past few weeks, but we have put measures in place,” Richardson said. He added that these new measures would be both proactive and reactive.
“As part of the plan, there will be increased police presence throughout T&T,” Richardson said. He said the police had been working tirelessly to stem the murder rate. Richardson said he met with officers of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) yesterday to discuss the new anti-crime plan.
The IATF is mandated to patrol the streets of east Port-of-Spain and Laventille—the district which has recorded the most murders in the country in the past ten years. Official statistics on the T&T Police Service (TTPS) Crime Statistic database show the police received 256 reports of sexual offences for the first three months of the year.
This figure represents a substantial rise compared to last year, which saw 123 reports for the first three months of the year. Of the 256 reported incidents, the statistic states that 166 have been solved by detectives, a percentage of almost 65 per cent.
In a telephone interview yesterday, head of the Police Service Victim and Witness Support Unit (VWSU) Margaret Sampson-Browne could not confirm the increase recorded in the statistics. However, she agreed with Richardson that the increase may be due to a rise in public confidence in the police.
“We are doing marvellous work in the communities,” she said. “We are building more trust these communities. People feel more comfortable with the police. This encourages witnesses and victims of crime to come forward.” Sampson-Browne, a retired assistant police commissioner noted that support groups which are run by her unit to assist victims of crimes have increased in size in the past few months.
In the most recent high-profile case of sexual abuse this year, a 50-year-old PH taxi driver appeared in court accused of 11 counts of sexual assault. Abdul Samad, also known as Roger Danglade and Abu, of Springvale, Claxton Bay, appeared in the Chaguanas Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday for allegedly buggering a 16-year-old boy and committing grievous sexual assault on the teen last year.
Samad will reappear in court on May 9. Despite an increase in reports of sexual offences, the murder toll for the first three months of this year was 91 as compared to 104 last year—a 13-per-cent decrease. However, of the 91 murders that were recorded, the police statistics showed that only nine were solved. Four murders were detected in January, two in February and five in the month of March.
Of the 343 murders recorded last year, 56 were solved. Yesterday, the murder toll stood at 107, after a long Easter weekend which saw 12 people being murdered, among them three residents of La Horquetta, Arima, who were shot dead in less than 24 hours on Easter Monday.
Senior homicide detectives said several suspects have been detained this week in connection with the spate of murders. Up to late yesterday, the Director of Public Prosecutions had not been contacted to determine whether criminal charges should be laid against the suspects who were in custody.Homicide detectives are said to be still gathering evidence on the murders and cross-referencing information received from various informants, a senior officer said.
The statistics also show a marked decrease in burglaries, with 640 reported incidents for the first quarter this year as compared to 1,119 last year.