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CoP: Service short by 1,400-plus officers
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams has admitted the country is facing a violent crime challenge. But he says despite there being a manpower shortage of more than 1,400 officers, there has been a 36 per cent reduction in serious crime over the first quarter of 2013. This, he said, was in all categories of serious crimes, including rapes and sexual offences.
Williams made the comment before members of a joint select committee in the Parliament building yesterday. The committee, chaired by Dr James Armstrong, examined the performance of the National Security Ministry. He was responding to questions posed by Arouca/Maloney MP Alicia Hospedales. Hospedales said according to statistics from the Police Service’s Crime and Problem Analysis Branch (CAPA), the detection rate was ten per cent, compared to last year when the rate was 12 per cent.
Asked if disbanding the Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T (Sautt) had played a part in the poor detection rate, Williams said that was not the case. “In our opinion, and that is a limited opinion, because we have done no scientific analysis, but strictly on experience and history, the low detection is not reflective of the change of the Special Anti-Crime Unit,” Williams said.
“What happens, by way of detection, murders take extensive investigation to be conducted, and what you may find is that a murder may be solved not necessarily when it is committed, but it may be solved over a period, sometimes over a year.” He said as the year progressed, the Police Service expected the detection rate to increase, resulting in more murders being solved. Some two or three murders, he said, were also expected to be solved by the weekend.
Insisting there was a “clear plan” to lift the detection rate, Williams said the organisation was challenged by the lack of manpower. “The Police Service right now is facing a shortage of manpower by 1,430 persons...We are in the mode of increasing recruitment,” he said. “At present we cannot dedicate more persons to the investigations of homicides. The priority focus of the Police Service is on crime reduction, crime control.”
The sanctioned strength of the Police Service is 7,715, he said. Williams said the organisation’s focus on crime reduction required the largest number of officers to be out on the streets seeking to manage and control crime. “We have seen a major reduction in serious crimes in 2013, but as we go forward and look at the issue of homicide investigation, we are seeking to expand the team of dedicated investigators and provide additional training for those officers,” he said.
“We are also going to bring on board additional forms of technology. And as you have less numbers to investigate, you can dedicate more time to those less numbers.” Saying the reduction in serious crimes was achieved through a series of initiatives, Williams said the Police Service had deliberately changed its model of policing from “a reactionary mode to a very proactive mode.”
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