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Turning that Ryan report into action

THE release of the Ryan Committee’s report, “No Time To Quit”, has intensified the focus on the issues surrounding crime at a time when the country is desperately searching for solutions.

Through its many references, the committee’s report has also emphasised the substantial body of work that already exists on this problem, all of which predates the Persad-Bissessar administration’s decision to establish yet another committee.

While the Prime Minister has lauded the report for its scholarly excellence, we doubt that she has found any new and substantial insight in this committee’s report. In the main, the Ryan committee has endorsed the views and recommendations of several previous committees, underscoring the point that when it comes to tackling the problem of crime, we continue to suffer from an over-abundance of reports and a shortage of action.

Given the vast pile of data and analysis built up over decades of committees and commissions, the Ryan Committee was always destined to become yet another expensive expedition in avoidance. There is little about the crime problem that we do not already know. What we have lacked, however, are governments with the political will to act on their recommendations.

There is very little in the Ryan Committee’s report that could not have been done within the public service whose archives are replete with the work of previous committees that have been left to gather dust.

Having insisted on establishing a new committee, however, the ball is now in the Prime Minister’s court. Three years into its term, and with its own committee’s report in hand, the Government must now move to the next stage and state which of the recommendations it intends to implement. Without an action plan with an implementation schedule, the report will end up being nothing more than waste paper.

In this process, we hope taxpayers will not be called upon to foot yet another bill for designing an action plan. That is a job for the public service where the expertise and experience already exist for evaluating the quality and viability of this report and, where possible, to take it forward.

What public servants will need, however, is evidence of the political will to act and the competence to oversee the development and implementation of an integrated assault against crime.

Admittedly, this has not been the strong suit of our governments which have tended to prefer superficial, headline-grabbing initiatives such as the Manning administration’s Anaconda effort and the People’s Partnership Government’s Colour Me Orange.

Notwithstanding its rehash of so much that we already know, the Ryan Committee’s report could yet become a thing of value if the Government were to use it as a point of departure for coherent, effective action.

It is now up to the Prime Minister to demonstrate to citizens that the money spent on this committee was a solid investment in a safer future for us all.

Over to you, Madam PM.

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