Monday, February 19, 2018

Charade of bold, flawed figures


NUMBERS: Gary Griffith

Mark Fraser

As someone who has taken a fair share of cheap shots at just about everyone in my native land from the safety and confines of my home—criticising, condemning, accusing, etc., while intentionally failing to suggest any meaningful solution—it is only fair, in light of the current murder rate, to briefly identify myself.

At 59, I am a sociologist who has been pursuing studies in criminology at the Ph.D. level for several years. Research and “crunching numbers’’ happen to be one of my many interests.

Similarly, I have intentionally refused to suggest recommendations, as experience over the years has demonstrated that successive regimes import “foreigners” and compensate them generously while expecting locals to volunteer. The last foreigner even reminded us about “three things that work for free.”

I am offended when any Minister of National Security inclusive of the present one, any of the many acting Commissioners of Police or anyone of the many PR persons from the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) throw numbers at the public in an attempt to bamboozle us into buying into their “crime is down” assertions. However, their command of the media gives them credibility.

Meanwhile, it is comforting to note they have cancelled their “weekly conference.” Perhaps 20 murders in one week, in a population of 1.3 million, and a land mass of 5,127 sq km, and a police service comprising over 7,000 allowed them to see the ridiculousness of their weekly, self-praise.

Someone needs to point out that their claims of crime being down are severely flawed since they only measure “reported’’ crimes.

What the TTPS, in their best efforts to look good, fail to recognise is that citizens have long lost confidence in their organisation, and as such, many crimes, including robberies, rapes, sexual offences, burglaries, larcenies, etc, go unreported. They then conveniently interpret the fewer reports to make the bold claims that “crime is down.”

Claims and veiled threats from the Prime Minister and others in positions such as the National Security Council do little to boost the confidence of a weary public, assaulted by crime for what seems like forever.

As this is written, the murder toll for the last year (2013) was somewhere in the vicinity of 405 if one follows the Minister of National Security, or 407 if we follow the media closely.

Doing some math and a bit of averaging, like the Ag CoP, the detection rate for murders in Trinidad and Tobago for the last year is less than one per cent. Imagine, less than one per cent!

Similarly, pathetic numbers from reports in today’s media, where the murder rate reached 20, there has been zero detection. So when the current Minister of National Security wishes to throw numbers around, anyone can do the same and show that between the years 2008 to 2013 there were 2,665 murders with 509 detections, most of which came from family issues and friendly disputes turned deadly. That is to say captain, there are 2,156 undetected murders and perhaps as many murderers running around this land, just within the last seven years.

When criminals go undetected, they become emboldened. The more they get away with, the more likely they are to take greater risks. This simple analysis is widely recognised and is one of the reasons why many citizens call for the enforcement of minor violations.

Individuals who engage in criminal behaviours engage in risk analysis, figuring out their probability of being apprehended. And if one thinks that the murder detection rate in this land is pathetic, then take a look at stolen vehicles (.04 per cent) and then look at narcotics (100 per cent ) always.

Rudy Chato Paul, Sr