NATIONAL Security Minister Gary Griffith said yesterday Government did not disband the special security agencies that were in place when it took office in 2010 but the various bodies were consolidated to be more effective.
Griffith said there was a perception that the various agencies—among them, the Special Intelligence Unit (SIU), the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) and the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT)—had been broken down and this was affecting the ability of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service to gather intelligence and perform.
When there were several agencies in place, he said they mostly operated independently of each other, refusing to share information or otherwise communicate.
“You cannot have several different intelligence agencies tripping over each other,” Griffith said, speaking during the Bail Amendment Bill debate in the Parliament chamber, at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain.
Griffith said the agencies were “each working in their own little kingdoms and information was not being passed” and this, in the broader picture, defeated their purposes.
“They have all been combined,” Griffith said.
Griffith also said the National Operations Centre (NOC) was not to be viewed as an intelligence-gathering unit but rather one that co-ordinates information between the various agencies.
“The NOC allows all agencies to work together,” Griffith said.
Calling on Parliament to view itself as “employees” of the population and set politics aside, Griffith said the Bail Amendment Bill could allow citizens to step outside the box and become involved in crime-fighting.
With the bill in place, citizens would feel safer about coming forward with information about crime as there is less concern that a convicted criminal could re-enter society and attempt to alter the course of justice, he said.
“A bill such as this will ensure that they do not have that ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card,” Griffith said.
He added it is now too late to “point fingers” with regard to the current murder toll, which up to yesterday stood at 23.
Griffith said the detection rate was low at this time last year as well before certain changes were made in the special agencies that were supposed to gather intelligence that would let the police execute their duties in the timely and effective manner.