The murder of outspoken journalist/television host Marcia Henville yesterday was described by former government minister Verna St Rose-Greaves as horrific and painful.
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CoP will target hotspots again
Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams yesterday announced a new strategic plan for the Police Service centering around a “hotspot policing” initiative which was piloted last year. The new strategic plan, which provides a new mission and vision for the service, would be implemented this year and a pilot project had already had a 41 per cent success rate, he said.
Williams announced the plan while making a presentation at a three-day symposium, called Prayers Plus, aimed at finding solutions for crime, at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, yesterday. He addressed the audience with a repetition of news that serious crime was trending downwards despite high levels of murder. “For 2014 we have had a record high in the recovery of firearms. It still is not stopping the murders but over 280 firearms have been recovered in under five months,” Williams said.
He outlined the four strategic goals of the police: To reduce and detect crime, to increase safety on roads and in public spaces, to establish citizen-centered service and to strengthen the organisation. He said the service’s top priorities moving forward would be murders and violent crime, gun recovery, police conduct and customer service.
“We have to move from a reactive to proactive method of policing. People come to police stations to make a report and sometimes if an officer has time they will take the report. We want them to go out in the community,” he said. Williams also said the police were moving forward with evidence-based hotspot policing, which they experimented with last year.
The experiment was done using 40 police stations in Trinidad and showed decreases in crime in the areas which used the hotspot policing method of increased patrols and police visibility in communities, he noted. He added: “The difference in terms of crimes committed in these experimental police stations and the control group was a 41 per cent decrease. “Hotspot policing can work. This experiment has demonstrated that it has worked in this country. Crime started to go down in the experimental stations.”
Fifty of the 77 police stations in T&T would activate hotspot policing this year, he said. Williams said once that yields positive results the remaining 27 stations would activate the method. “We are taking this from a scientific approach and we can drive crime downward,” he added. Williams said in terms of the movement of drugs, a national discussion on fixing the “porous borders” was needed.
Adding to statements made by Chief of Defence Staff Major Gen Kenrick Maharaj earlier that vulnerable points of entry were not the only problem in terms of the drug trade, Williams said stronger measures needed to be in place at ports. “We don’t have container scanners at the Port of Port-of-Spain and Point Lisas. Everybody knows that. Scanners have been acquired but are not yet operational,” he said.