OPPOSITION Leader Dr Keith Rowley and his team met with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last Thursday at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s to determine the way to arrest the country’s crime problem.
The following is the ten-point plan presented by Rowley at that meeting:
1. (a) An immediate abolition of the existing laws and rules governing the search for, evaluation of and appointment of a Commissioner of Police.
(b) That the process be immediately simplified so as to have an appointment made after evaluation by the Police Service Commission which could legislatively be enlarged to include the chairpersons of some other appropriate independent service commission.
(c) That this action be immediate and urgent so as to allow an appointment of a suitable national who will have proper tenure and who must set about to bring effective management of the human resource and other resources made available to the Police Service. This will boost the morale of the men and women assigned to policing and begin to restore the public’s confidence in the Police Service and its prospects of success.
2. (a) That an immediate manpower audit be done, by experts on the Police Service, so as to determine what is available as against what is required and how they are to be deployed to become more effective and sustainable.
(b) Eliminate the morale-sapping promotion issues in the Service to motivate the personnel.
(c) Acknowledge the need for effective information-gathering as the basis for crime detection ie the requirement for a unit such as SAUTT.
3. Activate the laws, as provided, to establish municipal police units in all 14 Local Government bodies and the Tobago House of Assembly. We suggest 100 persons per corporation for increased local patrolling and information gathering. This will immediately add 1,500 persons to the service of crime fighting and security. The legal framework is largely already in place.
4 Amend the existing legislation to give greater powers to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA), including the right to independently prosecute offending police officers.
5. The immediate establishment of a Standing Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Crime Suppression and Security to review, oversee, monitor and report on the policies, programmes and operational effectiveness of the human, financial and other resources deployed in the security systems for crime fighting, in particular.
6. Amendment of existing law for the creation of a specific offence of “witness tampering” identified as a crime with the severest penalties attached.
7. Amendment of the law to create a specific offence related to the unlawful eviction of person/s from premises by way of threats, force or any menacing act.
8.(a) That the Government commit to return to a proper sustained implementation of the Urban Renewal Plan for East Port of Spain, including reference to the recommendations of the Ryan Report. This programme will go a significant way in dealing with housing improvement and job creation issues as it addresses the quality of life challenges faced by residents.
(b) That the Government commit not to downgrade the City of Port of Spain since the economic health, growth and well-being of the city provides the best opportunity for sustainable jobs and other opportunities for residents of the inner city and the rest of the nation.
9. We identified our confusion over the two divergent positions of the Government on the anti-gang legislation and agreed to look at any new proposals which the Government may want to advance at this time.
10. We strongly recommend the acceptance of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as our final Court of Appeal.