Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lost on crime

Express editorial logo288

Mark Fraser

The Prime Minister is right to accept no excuses for non-performance by the various heads of the country’s security agencies. But she should be put on notice that the public has also passed the point of accepting excuses from her or her Government for the failure to make Trinidad and Tobago a safer place. If there is anyone entitled to read the riot act or crack the whip it would be the public that has had to suffer through one failed anti-crime strategy after another.

As Prime Minister and head of the National Security Council, it is the responsibility of Kamla Persad-Bissessar to guide this country to a safer place. In her fourth year in office, she does not now have the luxury of separating herself or her Government from the various security agencies.

We invite her and the rest of the People’s Partnership to return to the words of the Partnership’s campaign manifesto of 2010, in particular its statement on “Crime reduction and human security” where the party outlined its plan for addressing the “political, economic, social, technological and managerial dimensions required to reinstate safety and security”.

Four years later, Trinidad and Tobago is as far away from enjoying a sense of safety and security as it was in 2010, if not further. In the face of increasing murders, not to mention the serious crimes that do not make it into the headlines, the evidence is mounting that the Government has lost its way in the battle against crime.

The latest tough talk from the Prime Minister reeks of desperation. If the crime solution was as easy as instructing people to do their work, the problem would have been solved long ago. What is lacking is the effective “multi-pronged approach” that the People’s Partnership promised, that if elected, it would deploy in the service of a safer, more secure nation.

The people of Trinidad and Tobago are paying a very high price for the failure of those with the authority and responsibility to keep them safe. As the Partnership acknowleged in its own manifesto, “Economic progress on a sustainable basis and meaningful democracy are not possible unless crime is brought under control and there can be some assurance of human safety and security”. In the context of the criminal wave that now holds the country in its grip, these are haunting words.

While precise data on the impact of crime on the economy and society are not available, it is a safe bet that it is having a dampening impact on business and personal confidence in the country. The enjoyment of life and property is only possible in a climate of personal security. Without it, societies become hesitant and fearful of taking risks in every aspect of life.

The Prime Minister needs to do more than talk tough. She needs to pull her resources together and develop a workable crime plan in the shortest possible time. Preferably, before another life is lost.