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Criminologist at UWI says: Crime in CSP areas down
Dr Randy Seepersad says anyone looking at the aggregated data and understanding that CSP was only responsible for 22 communities out of hundreds would be able to see the effect the programme had been having on the crime rate. “It is definitely not a waste of time and money. There is official data from the police that shows that crime in CSP communities is down, compared to some of the non-CSP communities,” he added.
Sloane-Seale said: “I think it impacted well, to be quite honest. Before the loan was signed off we had to do a rapid assesment of the cost–benefit analysis (CBA) and it was in the favour of doing a programme such as this. “A couple of years into the programme, we did another CBA and it indicated that this programme is a programme that will add value to Trinidad and Tobago.”
He said CSP communities had seen a 55 per cent reduction in homicides while the national rate had declined by 35 per cent and a 40 per cent reduction in shootings and woundings, with the national rate dropping by 19 per cent. Providing statistics, he said: “With regard to homicides in our communities: In 2008 CSP communities represented 13 per cent of homicides in Trinidad and Tobago. Up until July 31, this was reduced to 7.4 per cent.
“In actual numbers, we had 71 homicides in CSP communities in 2008, and as of July 31, we had 15.” Slone-Seale added that there was also a 26.4 per cent reduction in shootings and woundings between 2008 and July 2012 in CSP communities. He added: “Now these reductions are significant, in the sense that it represents a 55 per cent decrease in CSP communities over the national average, which is 35.6 per cent of the national rate.
“With regard to shootings and woundings, we have more than doubled the national average of 18.5 per cent in reduction. We have reduced woundings and shootings in our communities by 40.2 per cent.” These statistics, he said, came from police monitoring and evaluation instruments that the CSP had developed, and various partner ministries, including the Ministries of Education, People and Social Development, Community Development, Health, Sport, Gender Affairs and Youth and Child Development and the Central Statistical Office.
Despite the murders continuing to plague T&T, Sloane-Seale believes the overall statistics are evidence of a decrease in criminal activities. However, he said, the number of murders taking place was of great concern. Asked whether the CSP was operating in the right communities, he said: “The CSP is a very targeted pilot project so it was decidedly focused on 22 very specific communities, which is a lot for a pilot, that were chosen given the frequency of crime, types of crime, availability of physical and human assets to work with, geographic spread and feedback from key ministries.”
After an evaluation earlier this year, he said, CSP was considering expanding the programme to include eight other high-risk communities early next year. He said his 35-strong staff was qualified in crime and violence reduction, youth and community outreach, project management, procurement, information and communications technology, finance, monitoring and evaluation, office administration and management.
What causes crime?
Through collecting and analysing data, Sloane-Seale said, the CSP was able to identify social ills, such as a history of family violence, child abuse and child neglect as key factors that contributed to citizens choosing a life of crime. He said the remedies were to reach out to parents and use the CACs and other social institutions to influence both adults and children. These analyses were done on each community as they all had varying problems.
Other problems leading to crime identified by the CSP are personal issues with relationships; low self-esteem; poor parenting skills; stigmatisation of communities and an undesirable relationship between the police and their communities. Despite a public perception that poverty and a lack and education resulted in people turning to criminal livelihoods, he discredited that view, saying once people were nurtured and supported by their families, they would be set on the right track as citizens.
“There are peaceful law-abiding citizens in Trinidad and Tobago who are living in poverty, who are not engaged in crime and violence,” he said. Seepersad, noted that the majority of crime occurred in suburban area while rural areas tended to have less occurrences of crime. What made it interesting was that he revealed that many of the suburban areas were PNM strongholds.
He said: “I work with crime data and what I simply did was look for the highest level of crime and I recommended them for the CSP’s expansion. All over the world, suburban communities have more crime than rural communities. “In Trinidad and Tobago, it so happens that many of the rural areas are UNC area and many of the urban are PNM stronghold areas. People wanted to know if the selection was only PNM, but this thinking never entered the equation. It was all about the crime level.”
Where does the $$ come from and where does it go?
Government has spent US$35 million to develop the programme, of which US$24.5 million came from an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan, while the other US$10.5 million was funded by taxpayers. Approximately 25 per cent of the CSP’s resources have been spent in the first four years of the programme. It has spent money on:
• Providing psychosocial support for the police
• supplying 70 computers
• training three information technology tutors
• installing crime-analysis software for police
• refurbishing and supplying equipment and furniture to the VWSU at five sites.
These police stations include West End, Chaguanas, Morvant, Arouca and San Fernando. In addition the police Crime and Problem Analysis Unit (CAPA) has also received computers, software and related training while the Police Training Academy is expected to have a computer lab outfitted to carry out ongoing training for recruits and officers. At December 2011, roughly $15,049,696 had been spent on direct community-intervention projects.
However, that figure did not include projects funded for social interventions in partnership with the police. CSP has spent just under $60 million, with another $160 million already allocated to expanding or starting other prevention/intervention programmes, such as parenting support, after-school, life and social skills, mentoring, public education and continued training and sensitisation of CBOs and individuals on domestic violence, child-abuse prevention, mediation and counselling.
Other programme costs include:
ICON (Inspiring Confidence in Our Neighbourhood), which is a grant of $50,000 given to CBOs for crime and violence-prevention micro-projects in partner with communities. A report from the CSP showed 60 ICON projects had been completed with a total of 2,715 beneficiaries and 20 projects are still in progress. Rapid-Impact Projects are those implemented by the CAC with a maximum budget of $90,000. These are intended to enhance the safety of CSP communities’ residents. Up to July, 16 RIPs had been completed. Among them:
• Setting up a homework centre, 2011
• the North Eastern Settlement for children 11-16
• clearing overgrown lands and installing lights in Glen Road and Darrel Spring, Tobago, 2010
• hosting the Pro Peace Activity Month at Covigne Road, Diego Martin, where the CSP held prayer services, sporting activities, parenting session and pro-peace awareness marches.
Sponsorship of community engagements has an estimated cost of $1.75 million over the past four years. Community-based social interventions: plans valued between $200,000-$500,000, implemented by NGOs and aimed at reducing the risk factors for crime and violence and enhancing the protective factors. They included:
• A community-building programme at Never Dirty by Reaction Productions (Love Until Foundation)
• Mon Repos Agri-Initiative by Beaumont Celestain
• therapeutic intervention for young males by Dolly and Associates, held at Beetham Gardens, Never Dirty, Patna Rive Estate, Pinto Road, Samaroo Village, Mootoo Lands and St Barb’s.
School-based violence reduction
A $50,000 fund was developed for 18 CSP partner community schools, where three school-based interventions have been completed to date.
They are the Chaguanas North Secondary, Russel Latapy Secondary School and Arima West Government Primary and 183 students were involved.
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