Stakeholders agreed yesterday that there had not been a visible impact in the reduction of crime as claimed by National security minister Jack Warner. In a telephone interview yesterday, Catherine Kumar, currently the CEO and the secretary to the board at the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said there had not been a significant impact.
“The stats are there and the acting commissioner (Stephen Williams) met with us and showed us that serious crimes and homicides have decreased,” she said. Kumar said to date the chamber had not seen any improvement in the past three months. “Crime has reached a level where it would take a significant improvement to feel the impact and see it in our businesses. We are hopeful it would continue into 2013. Certain things were put in place which, frankly, are not new and things have not been executed,” she said.
Kumar said recent technology concerning the GPS tracking with police vehicles and using technology to assist was not being used. “We are not feeling the reduction but we are willing to work with the commissioner.” Kumar said kidnapping and homicides were not an issue last year. She said: “You look at criminal activity when you decide on investment in a country and when you have a negative advisory, it doesn’t help.”
Former minister in the ministry of national security and now opposition Senator Fitzgerald Hinds said the police service needed to have more manpower. “He is trying to deflect attempts on this issue and T&T has tolerated him. He (Warner) said he would beef up the police service but has done it with Special Reserve Police officers who are unable to hold their own in the public domain and what they could do is limited because they are trained for three weeks,” Hinds said.
He said to beef up the strength of the police service there had to be over 11,000 police officers. “The strength has to be beefed up with trained officers and the police are recovering at no better rate,” Hinds insisted. “We always said the state of emergency did not involve a sustained gun retrieval programme,” he added.
“I consider that this government is responsible for the circumstances we are in. They are hoping the guys (criminals) behave themselves without doing anything meaningful.” President of the Prisons Officers Association Ceron Richards said the figures of inmates at the prisons did reflect that crime had been reduced.
“I don’t know the statistics. Who in jail is already in jail but remand population keeps growing well. That has to be what Jack (Warner) is talking about,” Richards said. “We are above our capacity and we are not seeing tangible results in the service,” he added. Richards said the Remand Yard, Arouca, housed roughly about 300 inmates but held an execss of 1,200 inmates.
“Overcrowding remains an issue especially at remand and we hope something is done with regards to infrastructure. We hope a more positive approach comes from government to help remove that problem,” Richards insisted. When contacted, Downtown Owners and Merchants Association president Gregory Aboud refused to comment.