Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Criminology key to reducing murders



‘TRAINING’: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, left, and Insp Wayne Mystar during the weekly news briefing at Police Administration Building, Port of Spain yesterday. —Photo: AYANNA KINSALE

Mark Fraser

IT is almost impossible to completely eliminate murders in Trinidad and Tobago, but acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams says the Police Service is doing everything in its power to bring the rate to such a level where it will no longer be a concern for citizens.

Among the initiatives being experimented with by the service is criminology training programmes, in which, as recent as Tuesday, all divisional and station commanders engaged in sessions related to homicide prevention, he said.

Williams said the training was facilitated by Cambridge University, with the sessions being carried out by Prof Lawrence Sherman, “one of the world’s most renowned criminologists”.

He made the announcement during yesterday’s police news briefing at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain.

The acting Commissioner said it was understandable why the murder rate was of concern to citizens as it was “one of the crime types that has defied us over time”.

“While we see other crime types dropping, we have recognised, for the first quarter of 2014, compared to the first quarter of 2013, a 34 per cent reduction overall in serious crime. Some people will comment on issues about reduction, but we need to always recognise every time there is a crime it affects a citizen or citizens of our beloved country,” said Williams.

“So every time there is no crime there is a positive for the citizens of this country. If we have cut crime by 34 per cent there are many citizens who would have been victims of crime, but who were not, so it is a positive. It is not just built around the issue of murders, but we know about the interest around murders because where there is a murder, there is the loss of a life. It is a permanent termination of a person’s life, so it is a significant issue and concern.

“In 2013, there was a 26 per cent reduction in serious crime and 30 per cent reduction in violent crimes and when we speak about violent crimes we speak about wounding, shootings, rapes, robberies and those crime types,” said Williams.

He said, starting next Monday and going through until May 1, Trinidad and Tobago will be hosting the annual Caribbean Conference for Police Commissioners, where commissioners from across the region will come together to find solutions to the issue of transnational crime.

Williams said transnational crime is central to gang activities as it includes drug and firearm trafficking, with 70 per cent of the murders taking place in this country annually being firearm-related.

Questioned on the detection rate of the Police Service when it came to murders, Williams said over the past few years “we have consistently operated within the band of 16 to 18 per cent”.

He said, after doing assessments regarding feedback from the public, some stakeholders shared information with the service that the citizenry will only begin being to think about being satisfied with the level of detection when the police are able to achieve a 40 per cent rate.