Since the 1990 insurrection, there has been an increase in crime and “knee-jerk” responses from successive governments, according to the Sir David Simmons report on the 1990 attempted coup. It was presented to President Anthony Carmona Thursday and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar laid it in Parliament following day.
In chapter 12 of its report, the Commission made some 31 recommendations aimed at strengthening the national security arms of the country.
The following are the recommendations made in the report on the 1990 attempted coup:
(1) Re-evaluation of National Security and Intelligence Agencies
We respectfully recommend that the entire national security architecture should be revisited. We are mindful that there have been several studies and reports prior to this Commission of Enquiry which, if properly approached and analysed, together with the empirical evidence available from the agencies mentioned above, can produce an appropriate security architecture for Trinidad and Tobago.
We are also satisfied that there is no need to import expertise from abroad. There exists in Trinidad and Tobago, a sufficient number of persons, whose knowledge, experience, expertise and sense of patriotism, imbue them with the appropriate credentials to develop a security framework for their country that is relevant to meet the challenges of crime and security effectively.
(2) Legislation for National Security Council and Secretariat
The National Security Council and Secretariat should be put on a legislative basis to ensure their more effective functioning and to lend authority to their decisions.
(3) National Security Operations Centre
No National Security Operations Centre existed in 1990. We are of opinion that such a centre, as a focal point for all arms of the security and Intelligence community, would greatly enhance the capability of the State to respond to emergencies. It would provide the ultimate communications platform among the various security agencies and be the agency to issue National Security Alerts when necessary.
(4) Rationalisation of SIA, SSA and SAUTT
There needs to be rationalisation of entities such as SIA, SSA and SAUTT. One agency should be created from these three. Duplication of effort was evident when these three agencies were in operation. Moreover, the relationship of such agencies to the Police Service needs to be carefully thought out to ensure that there is no duplication of function and effort and that lines of authority and command are clear. The objective should be to establish a symbiotic and collaborative relationship among the agencies.
The Commission accepts and supports the view that specific units/entities should be established to target specific types of criminal activity, e.g. drugs and arms trafficking. The Commission also accepts that Intelligence gathering is indispensable to success in the war against crime. Thus, such anticrime structures that are finally developed should have Intelligence-gathering capabilities. But all Intelligence-gathering should be coordinated and shared through the aegis of the Secretariat of the NSC.
(5) National Intelligence Superstructure
The Commission received strong recommendation that it is necessary to rationalise the disparate agencies which provide Intelligence and consolidate them into one composite authority in the nature of a national security superstructure. This body should have its own staff and a compensation package designed to attract “the brightest and best” analysts and operatives. The appointment of the Head of this organisation should be made by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister after written consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
This superstructural organisation should, as far as practicable, be comprised of civilians, duly polygraphed and specially trained. Recruitment of personnel from the Military and/or Police should be avoided. Analysts should be assigned to target particular objects of attention, e.g. arms trafficking, drug trafficking and gangs but be ‘cross-trained’ in the event of unavailability of personnel. The Commission is of the view, however, that the operations and modalities of such an over-arching structure should be carefully thought out to avoid undue bureaucracy, infiltration, corruption and cross-contamination.
(6) Heads of Security Meetings
The issues of tasking and coordinating within the security structures require attention. The NSC will often only be able to give approval to or guidelines for action or response. Who carries out a particular task and who co-ordinates action or response may become problematic. We recommend that Meetings of Heads of Security should be institutionalised, perhaps convened every two weeks. These Meetings would require the attendance of the Heads of the Protective Services, Customs,
Immigration and Prisons. They should be chaired by the Minister of National Security. It is important to involve the Prisons. Indeed, consideration should be given to making the Prisons an Intelligence Cell. Prisoners plan criminal activity from within the confines of a Prison and often disclose information about previous criminal activities during their incarceration.
Subcommittees of the Heads of Security can be formulated and tasked to deal with specific issues and then pass information to the requisite executing unit or report back as the situation requires. We are of the view that proper tasking and coordinating are critical to the success of operations.
The objective of Heads of Security Meetings is the involvement of every key Intelligence actor on the national stage with key analysts in order to have, at all times, a comprehensive picture of the national situation.
Appropriate legislation should be enacted to govern the operations of any of the entities established to function as security or Intelligence agencies.
(8) Direct Action Task Force
In respect of operational matters, we recommend the creation of a Direct Action Task Force (DATF) as a first response or first strike unit under the command of the Commissioner of Police. The DATF’s role would involve direct intervention in areas or situations of potential or actual criminal activity.
(9) Crisis Management Centre and Information Management Centre
One of the deficiencies in the security arrangements in 1990 was the absence of a central body to manage the crisis occasioned by the attempted coup. There was also no Central Emergency Plan.
The case for a Crisis Management Centre is overwhelming. It is axiomatic that such a Centre should exist. Allied to such a Centre should be an Information Management Centre to coordinate and disseminate information to the media and the public. Were it not for 610 Radio in 1990, the public would have been at an even greater disadvantage than they were in 1990.
And the media arrangements at the Holiday Inn hotel left much to be desired. There seemed to have been a reluctance on the part of the local media to make use of the Holiday Inn facility. On the other hand, the foreign media did not appear to have any inhibitions.
(10) The Police Service and Law Enforcement
Policing crime in Trinidad and Tobago today seems comparable to walking up an escalator going downwards. It seems as though the Police Service is unable to respond to the challenge of contemporary crime effectively. Violent crime seems to be an everyday occurrence. Drugs and guns are at the centre of much of Trinidad and Tobago’s crime problem.
Crime and the fear of crime have reduced the quality of life for most of the population. Crime is one societal phenomenon about which every individual seems to have his/her own explanation and solution. But there is no single explanation of crime. International criminological evidence still holds to the view that criminality is best explained on the basis of multi-factor theories.
If the starting point is that a variety of factors may predispose to crime, then surely the response to crime must be multifaceted. Many of us have our own ideas of what will work to reduce crime. However, the international evidence shows that only a limited number of strategies have proven successful in the fight against crime.
(11) Specific Targeted Law Enforcement Strategies
So far as law enforcement is concerned, the following have been shown by the Lawrence Sherman Report, ‘Preventing Crime: What Works, What Doesn’t, What’s Promising’, and other studies to actually work in reducing offending:
Strengthening the resources of law enforcement agencies; Diversifying Police strategies, for example, by establishing neighbourhood watches; increasing the mobility of the Police; and adopting strategies of community policing and problem-oriented policing. Assisting the public in situational crime prevention through public education; Modernising the administration of justice and the penal system; Continuing research, evaluation and analysis to inform anticrime strategies.
The Commission therefore recommends that the resources of the Police Service be strengthened in the following areas, mentioned at (a) to (d) below:
(a) Technological Resources
The pace of moving from a paper-based system to an electronically-based system should be accelerated. A contemporary state-of-the-art telecommunications system should be installed and contemporary fingerprint, biometric and Intelligence technologies should be acquired.
(b) Human Resource Development
The Commission is aware that policing is no longer seen as an attractive profession to many of today’s youth. But the quality of recruits has to be improved by enhancement of the terms and conditions of Police Officers.
Commensurately, however, the entry level for enlistment in the Service is too low; three O-Level passes or their equivalent: If terms and conditions are enhanced, it is probable that enlistment in the Service will be more attractive to a better-educated recruit.
Provision should be made to permit the recruitment of an appropriately qualified officer directly at the level of Assistant Superintendent upon condition that the officer undergoes relevant overseas training.
(c) Training and Curriculum Change
The top management of the Police Service should be exposed to regular training opportunities abroad to bolster professionalism. A state-of-theart Training Institute for Police Officers should be built in Central Trinidad.
The curriculum at the Police Training College should be redesigned to lay greater emphasis on training for policing with a heavier concentration on teaching relevant law. The military aspect of police training should be de-emphasised; for example, foot drill and rifle drill. We were told that 60 per cent of a police recruit’s training is foot drill and military stuff. This should be counterbalanced by more training in the use of side arms and the weapons specific to particular aspects of police work.
(d) Mechanical Resources
The mobility of the Police Service is a critical factor in proactive and reactive policing. The Government must ensure that the visibility of the police is always high. This requires the provision and availability of vehicles to serve and reassure the public as well as to protect them.
(12) Diversification of Police Strategies
“Community policing” has replaced the former nomenclature ‘Resident Beat Officer’. Essentially, community policing promotes interaction with communities and seeks to find solutions for problems as defined by the communities. “Problem-oriented policing” is practised by many police forces in England and the US.
The Commission was heartened to learn that the Police Service is actively pursuing these two types of contemporary policing which have been shown to work. No resources should be spared to ensure that these types of policing are seriously and constantly pursued.
(13) Encouraging Situational Crime Prevention
Criminal activity can be prevented by manipulating the physical environment in order to reduce opportunities to commit crime. This is an approach to crime control that is termed Situational Crime Prevention. One way of achieving this result is by providing the public with information or education about crime prevention methods so that they can work effectively with others in the community. Another method involves the offering of incentives to businesses to encourage the implementation of physical measures designed to curb crime.
Properly organised situational crime prevention has been shown to be a most cost-effective method of reducing crime.
(14) Continuing Research, Evaluation and Analysis to Inform Anti-Crime Strategies
The Police Service should ensure that a Unit of Crime Policy and Analysis, staffed with criminologists and statisticians, develops and uses high quality information, advice and evaluation to assist the Ministry of National Security and criminal justice agencies in preventing and reducing crime.
However, because the prevention and reduction of crime are complicated and involve a certain amount of “cross-fertilisation”, the Crime and Policy Analysis Unit will be obliged to work in conjunction with other Ministries of Government.
(15) Deployment of Police Officers
The Commission is not in a position to recommend an increase in the personnel of the Police Service. Indeed, too often the cry of the uninformed is ‘Get More Police’. The Commission cautions that the first exercise that should be undertaken in considering the optimum strength of the Police Service is to analyse the total security personnel available in Trinidad and Tobago and, thereafter, analyse whether the deployment of such personnel is efficacious or whether better results could not be achieved by different deployment. In any event, the Commission recommends that deployment of Police Officers be constantly kept under review.
(16) Anti-Corruption Unit
It was represented to the Commission that corruption within the Police Service compromises its effectiveness and contributes to a loss of confidence in the Police Service among the public. The Police Service must put in place strategies and systems to counter corruption. The Commission recommends the establishment of a Unit specifically selected to monitor and investigate corruption within the security agencies generally.
THE DEFENCE FORCE
(17) Removal from Camp Ogden
All witnesses agreed that the Defence Force Headquarters at Camp Ogden are not congruent with the needs of a contemporary Defence Force. We were told that it has long been recognised and accepted that a new location should be found for the Defence Force. Accordingly, we see no value in enumerating the reasons why the Defence Force should be moved from Camp Ogden. Those reasons were advanced to the Commission persuasively and we therefore recommend that the Government take the necessary action to ensure that there is no inordinate delay in causing the Defence Force Headquarters to be relocated. 1990 exposed some of the limitations of Camp Ogden but, 23 years later, Camp Ogden is exactly where it was 23 years before.
(18) Legislation Relating to the Military
It was represented to the Commission that the legislation relating to the Military is archaic or deficient in many respects. For example, subsidiary legislation to be made under the Defence Act has, in fact, not been made. Thus, the Defence Force is required to use British Manuals of Military Law (Parts I, II and III) to assist in solving problems arising under the Defence Act.
There are no Regulations specific to the Army, the Air Wing or the Coast Guard and resort is had to the relevant British Army, Air Force and Navy Regulations. This is wholly inconsistent with an independent Trinidad and Tobago.
Where the Defence Act requires the creation of Rules of Procedure, Boards of Enquiry Rules and Detention Rules, none exists. Use is therefore made of the Queen’s Regulations. The Army Act, 1955 is out of date. No legislative basis exists for enlisting Reservists to lend assistance in times of emergency.
When the Defence Force was originally established, the spread and fear of communism were given as the raison d’être for that Force. The threat of communism disappeared in the early 1990s. Today’s threats to the security of State are drugs, illegal firearms and international organised crime. The Commission therefore recommends that, having regard to the changed nature of contemporary crime and security issues, there should be an analysis and evaluation of the role and function of the Defence Force to determine whether its role and function should not involve deeper collaboration with the civil power. No comprehensive legislation exists to provide for joint operations between the Military and the Police. It is vital that the circumstances under which, and the manner in which, the Military is empowered to act in aid of the civil power be clearly defined and legislated.
(19) Working Party to Modernise Legislation
There are a number of retired senior officers and Commanders of the Defence Force who wish to offer their country the benefit of their expertise and experience. Accordingly, the Commission recommends that a Working Party comprising persons such as those mentioned, and assisted by a draftsperson from the Chief Parliamentary Counsel’s Chambers, be appointed to prepare drafts of amendments to primary legislation and drafts of necessary subsidiary legislation.