Some 686 officers assigned to the Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T (Sautt) are to lose a $5,000 monthly allowance when the unit is disbanded and they return to their substantive jobs within the Police Service, the Defence Force and the Immigration Department in September. This was revealed by National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy, during yesterday's post-Cabinet news conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair. Sandy said Cabinet agreed to the establishment of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) as the single agency to handle all intelligence in T&T.
He said the NIA "should be fully operational by September 1, 2011." A day earlier, on Independence Day, August 31, the Sautt would cease to exist as a unit, Sandy added. He said a three-member special implementation team, headed by Deputy Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, would be mandated to ensure the implementation of the recommendations approved by Cabinet. Asked to comment on the $5,000 reduction in the compensation package of the Sautt officers, Sandy said: "Well, I am sure it will be hard for them to readjust." He insisted, however, that "you must take into consideration, as well, that the units that they will be returning to themselves will be afforded some element of increase."
Sandy said that was based on ongoing negotiations for a new collective agreement with the Government's Chief Personnel Officer (CPO). Asked to respond to a comment by Minister in the National Security Ministry Subhas Panday that Sautt would not be disbanded, Sandy said: "Remember, we are still in a stage of accepting the recommendation, so we cannot say Sautt will be disbanded. "The recommendations are there, you may very well find that the implementation team come and recommend that it ought not to be, which I mean is unlikely, but you cannot say something is happening if it has not happened," he said.
He then stressed that the August date for Sautt to cease to exist was a recommendation. He, however, added: "We expect it (Sautt) to be (disbanded)." Sandy said the blimp was also to be grounded permanently. He said those were among the recommendations submitted by a Steering Committee which was established last September and also headed by Williams to look at the restructuring of Sautt.
Sandy said those recommendations were submitted to the Cabinet last December for its consideration.
He listed some of the recommendations which were approved by Cabinet:
• Sautt is expected to cease operations as an entity by August 31, 2011.
• There is to be the establishment of a single national intelligence agency.
• Termination of the contracts of all UK personnel assigned to Sautt by April 30, 2011.
Sandy said the People's Partnership Government would like to thank those foreign officers for their contribution in the fight against crime in T&T over the past few years. He said the implementation team was expected to address the recommendation for all 686 service officers assigned to Sautt.
"It is recommended that all units going back to their parent unit ought not to be compromised and they ought to stay together," he added. Officers from the Police Service, the Defence Force and the Immigration Department were seconded to Sautt when it was established under the former People's National Movement. Sandy said the main reasons why Sautt was being disbanded were that it was illegal and that it was seen as a parallel organisation to the T&T Police Service.
He admitted that some good has come out of the operations of Sautt. He said another recommendation was that "all communication/intercept technology and operations be located within the National Intelligence Agency to avoid redundancies and possible abuse." Sandy said the team also recommended that the airship or blimp "be decommissioned immediately and sold," and that the photographic instruments be reassigned to the helicopter platforms.