Criminologist Renee Cummings says criminals are becoming more brazen because they know the criminal justice system is highly challenged and unable to respond to criminal trends in time. She said the service is also in need of analytic investigative support when it comes to investigating homicides.
Giving her views on the country's spiralling crime rate, which prompted Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to summon the heads of national security forces to a special meeting of the National Security Council on Friday to hammer out strategies to combat escalating murders, Cummings said there was need for a more systematic thinking regarding the patterns of homicides in T&T.
"What we are seeing are more male ego homicides, male-on-male killings, grudge and revenge homicides, many of these killings are honour contests in response to trivial disagreements," she said. "We have also witnessed the grudge and revenge homicides which are more purposeful and determined in nature."
Cummings, a criminal psychologist and rehabilitation specialist, said the recent behaviour illustrates that something seems to have disturbed the equilibrium of the streets. However, she felt, T&T was not following in the footsteps of Jamaica. "But we are no longer looking like Trinidad & Tobago. We are way too rich in financial and human capital to be struggling this hard and long with a crime problem."
Crime prevention, Cummings said, was not the only approach. "Radical reformation is needed in law enforcement leadership and management for policing to become an arena of evidence based policies. There must be a penetration of science into police practice."
She feels there is a huge disconnect between international best practice research in criminal justice and what is being practiced currently. Visionary leadership, Cummings said, was now mandatory at the national security level.
"There must be a penetration of science into police practice. What we keep seeing is an inefficient and ineffective use of resources, archaic practices and a duplication of efforts. What we need in a plan to decrease crime are strategies that target high impact offenders and corrupt organisations, increase incarceration, lower crimes against women and children, reduce recidivism and enhance rehabilitation."
The country, Cummings said, has failed to realise that law enforcement itself cannot reduce violence. "There is an obvious lack of diverse intelligences at the national security level." A cross-wiring of law enforcement, courts, corrections, treatment agencies, justice information sharing and community based partners, Cummings said, are required.
"We are not seeing the requisite cross-system collaboration." Cummings said as a nation we must understand that trust, transparency and the protection of privacy, civil rights and civil liberties are fundamental to effective crime control and to achieving safe communities. Cummings said a strategic approach that encompasses preventing, controlling crime, collaborations in administering justice and assisting victims was key.