PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, December 19, 2016 (CMC) – Prime Minister, Dr. Keith Rowley, today, called for “swift justice” in Trinidad and Tobago, and dismissed reports that a crime plan should be outlined to deal with criminal activities in the country.
Speaking at the opening of a new police station in East Trinidad, Rowley said that a crime plan does not necessarily has to be a new document, and that his government acknowledges that “it is the quality and effectiveness of the police that will give us the kinds of results that we are looking for, as a response to unacceptable violent crime in many districts in Trinidad and Tobago.
“If that plan is not acceptable, then we will have to revisit it. But at the level of the Cabinet we are not of the view that that position has expired.
“We have, I would say, a fairly well resourced police service in Trinidad and Tobago and what we, as citizens, expect …is that the efforts of the police service will bring the kinds of results that would give us the comfort that we are being properly policed, properly secured”.
Rowley said that such policing has two facets, including enforcing the law, “particularly against citizens who operate on the basis that the law does not matter or that wrong doing will go undetected or unpunished”.
Rowley said that his administration would continue to provide “all that is affordable”, in terms of resources, in a bid to deal with the crime situation and hoped the results would lead to a drastic decline in crime and also the fear of crime.
“I have not heard a citizen that puts the element of fear of crime in any numerical way and, until we bring down the element of fear of crime and criminality in all our communities, the society will not accept that we are, in fact, making the kind of progress that they expect.”
Earlier, National Security Minister, Edmund Dillon, told the ceremony that criminal activities in this section of the capital had declined by 14 percent, but that murders were still a problem for the local police island-wide. So far this year, more than 440 persons have been murdered.
“Police can’t do it alone. We have to depend on collaboration and cooperation…in a relationship that will rebound to the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” Dillon said, as he urged the population to help the police deal with criminal activities.
Dillon said he too understands the “the fear of crime is worse than crime itself”, and that the government was doing all in its powers to provide all the law enforcement agencies, with the tools and resources to deal with the situation.
Rowley said it should not be said that the police are not getting results or not working as it relates to crime, adding “it is the results, overall, that will bring back that sense to the national community that we are winning the fight against the criminal elements.
“I can tell you, some aspects of the criminal element are of the view that they are winning the fight,” Rowley said, adding “we cannot allow that to prevail, much less to become a reality.
“It has to be that the vast majority of citizens and the police infrastructure and all the security agencies, working together, that that is what is winning the fight,” he said, adding “and therefore we, as citizens, are looking for results”.
Rowley said that “swift justice” was needed in Trinidad and Tobago to prevent the ongoing situation, where criminals are put out, back on the streets, to continue their activities, either to pay lawyers to defend them or to ensure that they enjoy their freedom.
“If you see things happening and it is happening right now, the population seeing certain crimes being committed, certain kinds of information would be in the public domain and the population will think that given this crime, given what we know….we really expect to see a result in persons being held accountable ….because justice has to be swift, it has to be seen to be swift.
“I cannot say that in Trinidad and Tobago there is swift justice, even when we are fortunate to have some detection of crime and the perpetrators are known to us. There is no swift justice in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said, adding that this moves beyond the police responsibility to another area.
He said the criminals are processed and are back out on the street “for how long nobody knows.
“But while they are out on the street, they are in mortal fear of losing their freedom and they will do everything possible to preserve their freedom, because the same way the national community wants to be protected …those perpetrators of crime want to be free,” Rowley added.