Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Northern Division 'still most crime-ridden'

Despite 2012 figures being at a 5-year low...

THE Northern Division of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service last year recorded a five-year low in serious crimes, according to statistics provided by the Service's Crime and Problem Analysis Branch (CAPA).

The Northern Division, however, still remains the most crime-ridden division in this country, according to CAPA's statistics.

It has held the title for the past five years.

The Northern Division incorporates police stations from Arima, Arouca, La Horquetta and Maloney.

Its divisional headquarters is located at the Tunapuna Police Station.

According to statistics released by CAPA, the Northern Division recorded 3,088 serious crimes last year.

There were 333 fewer serious crimes last year than in 2011—the year the country experienced a three-month state of emergency.

In 2011, the Northern Division recorded 3,421 serious crimes.

The Northern Division was only one of two divisions that recorded fewer crimes last year than in 2011.

The other division to experience a decrease in crime between last year and 2011 was the South Western Division.

Serious crimes in the South Western Division fell from 998 in 2011 to 979 last year.

While the Northern Division still holds the unenviable position of being the country's most crime-ridden area, the gap between it and the division with the second most reported serious crimes has narrowed considerably.

In 2009, the Northern Division reported 4,600 serious crimes, which worked out to more than 12 serious crimes a day.

It was the only division to record 4,000 serious crimes for that year.

Second on the list of divisions in terms of serious crimes for 2009 was the Southern Division, with 3,312 serious crimes reported.

The difference between the Northern Division and the Southern Division was 1,300 serious crimes for 2009.

For last year, the gap between the Northern Division and the Southern Division was only 16 serious crimes.

The Southern Division reported the second most serious crimes for last year, with 3,072 incidents reported.

So what has caused the dramatic decrease in serious crimes in the Northern Division?

The Express yesterday contacted Assistant Police Commissioner Wayne Dick, who is responsible for the Northern Division, for an answer to this question.

Dick said our four-legged friends—dogs and horses—had an integral role in the decrease in crime in the Northern Division.

"I utilise all the sections in the Police Service. All. I empowered all the sections, we used Mounted and Canine Branch. We intensified the use of the Canine Branch in the finding and the seizure of narcotics, which caused us to see such a drastic increase in what was there before," Dick said.

"We used the mounted officers to bring a closer relationship between the police officers generally and the community, because people are naturally attracted to the horses. It is a phenomenal issue and lots of people wonder what is it and there is no answer to it. It is just that people are attracted to the horses," he said.

Dick said the Special Reserve Police officers were also utilised to ensure a greater police presence in "busy shopping areas" such as Tunapuna and Arima.

In addition to the use of SRPs, horses and dogs, Dick said police officers were commended for using their initiative and being responsive to reports on crime.

He said this "hyped up" officers and pushed them to tackle crime with a renewed vigour.

"We were able to get 25 guns off the streets in 28 days and it was not like we held one man with four and five guns. The [largest number] of guns we got from any one exercise was two guns, he said. That was historic," Dick said.

"We even have it so tight now that we even catch people in the act of committing a robbery. We had five instances where as persons were going to commit a robbery, we were able to foil the robbery attempt, arrest the persons and get the firearms," he said.

Areas such as Arima, Malabar and Carapo have also been under "constant vigilance", Dick said.

Dick said his vision, however, is to have serious crimes in the Northern Division reduced by 50 per cent.

"Enough is enough. We have to get a grip on crime so that people can feel comfortable when they move in their communities. They must actually feel comfortable to go out and socialise. They must be able to go shopping and not feel any existing threat that there is a possibility that they can be robbed and stuff like that," Dick said.

Dick praised all the officers in the Northern Division for stepping up to the task to combat crime in the country's most crime-ridden area.