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Top cop: Violent crimes down but murders still challenging

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

In 2013 violent crimes have been reduced by 33 per cent, acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams said yesterday, giving an update on the Government’s mandate to the Police Service to reduce violent crimes by 50 per cent in a three-year period. Attributing this decrease to “hot-spot policing,” Williams added: “The hot-spot policing approach is showing by way of confirmation that it is useful.



“What we are seeing is that we have journeyed from January to November pursuing an operative plan and we have clearly recognised a 33 per cent reduction in violent crimes. And for an organisation and its performance, for me that is very satisfying but we are still challenged by murders.” Williams spoke at a breakfast meeting at the Faculty of Social Sciences Lounge, UWI, St Augustine. Organised by the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development, it was titled: “Conversation with the T&T Police Service.” 


He said from January to November 30, 2013, there were 366 murders, with the Port-of-Spain division recording 112, and the East West Corridor—Carenage to Arima—recording 73 per cent of them. A count by the T&T Guardian showed there had been 369 murders up to last evening. At the end of the year, Williams predicted there could be 399 murders and 12,835 serious crimes. Guns were used to commit some 70 per cent of murders, he said. 


Over the last decade, he said, there had been a continuous increase in murders, with 2008 recording the highest toll of 547. In 2009 there were 507 murders, in 2010 473, in 2011 352 and in 2012 379. Hev added: “In 2013 the organisation was still facing high levels of violent crimes. Firearms featured as the weapon of choice of the criminal, especially in committing murders and other violent crimes.


“Port-of-Spain division continues to be the division with the highest level of violent crimes consistently over the years... 2013 was no different.”



Williams: Public sees us as corrupt
Williams said the fear of crime, mainly triggered by violent crimes, remained a challenge for the police. Saying this resulted in low public confidence in them, Williams added: “The public has seen and continues to see the Police Service as corrupt, abusive, unresponsive to the public’s needs, an organisation with incompetent officers and the issue of police misconduct being high.”


The organisation, however, was still in transition, he said, as there was a movement towards being more service-oriented and professional. On border protection, he said the police were not the only entity responsible for combating crime and his officers were not the ones to protect the coastal areas. He added: “The major challenge is, when we take guns off the streets, more guns come back into the country. 


“The Police Service is not responsible for securing the borders of the land. There are other agencies that must come on board in a serious way if we are to impact firearm crimes in T&T. 


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