As this country’s murder count approaches 400, criminologists fear that if prevention strategies are not changed to deal with the type of crimes occurring, the statistics could be the same as 2022 - 600 or more.
Only on Wednesday, Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher said the police service’s crime-fighting strategies were yielding results. She added that murders were trending down.
The murder count as of yesterday stood at 392.
But last week, in an interview with Guardian Media three criminologists gave their take on the present crime situation.
Criminologist Professor Emeritus Ramesh Deosaran said the overall danger in the escalation of murders and serious crimes is that such criminogenic incidents will gradually become “normalised’ in the next few years.
He said if nothing systematic and sustainable is done the country will adjust and learn how to live with it.
“This unhealthy condition will adversely affect the social, economic and morale of the entire society,” Deosaran said.
He said he expected the murder count this year to exceed that of 2022. He also feared that the brutality, violent murders and fearlessness with which home invasions were being committed were taking the country into the realm of domestic terrorism.
“That is, kill one, frighten ten thousand. The country’s level of fear is now unprecedented,” Deosaran explained.
He also said concern over the murder count cannot be discussed without examining the very low, below 20 per cent detection rate. Deosaran said too many murderers are on the loose without being caught.
“Obviously, the escalating murder rate is also straining police resources while dampening citizens’ willingness to provide information to the police,” he said.
Criminologist Darius Figuera shared a similar view with Professor Deosaran. He said the geography and type of crimes being committed have changed.
“There are now clear signs that there must be deep rooted changes in the methodology of the TTPS to arrest the rising murder toll,” he said.
The criminologist said the most violent quarters of 2022 were the third and fourth quarters and if there are to be fewer murders in 2023, then the current reduction seen in July and August needs to continue.
“At the end of August, which is a very short time from now, we will see if the trend established last month continues into August and then we can start to discern if we actually have a slowdown on our hands,” he said.
As for the performance of the Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher, Figuera said it will take time to reduce the current crime rate.
“It takes time to turn around a battleship on water, it cannot turn in a dime,” he said.
But he admitted that he does not feel safe in this country.
“I have to be constantly alert, and I have to be constantly looking for means to increase my security,” he said.
Meanwhile, another criminologist Dr Keron King said it is important to change the discourse from a tallying numbers discourse to an evidence-based crime reduction one.
“We need to discuss to what extent has the Commissioner’s Precision Policing plan been evaluated, to what extent has intelligence-led policing been implemented in our crime prevention approach and if so what has been our experiences,” King said.
He said the murder rate is troubling and unless the approach for crime prevention and reduction comes from an evidence-based perspective, he said he was afraid that the public will continue to have this problem.