CITIZENS have become so disenchanted by the ability of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) to respond to crime that they have stopped making reports.
This was the explanation given by political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr Keith Rowley to claims from the Police Service that there were 5,000 fewer serious crimes reported in 2013 as compared to 2012.
According to statistics from the TTPS, 12,800 serious crimes were reported in 2013 as compared to 17,840 in 2012.
This 28 per cent reduction is the lowest recorded in 29 years, according to TTPS statistics.
“We who live here and we who see blood flowing down every street in Trinidad and Tobago, the Government is telling us that crime has gone down,” Rowley said.
He made the comments as he delivered the feature address at a PNM “Meet the Constituency Conference” at Port of Spain City Hall on Monday night.
Rowley asked anyone in the packed auditorium who believed crime had gone down in their area to raise their hands.
No hands were raised.
“The Government is saying crime gone down and have the police reporting that stupidness,” Rowley said.
He said what has in fact happened is that the “reporting of crime has been reduced and it is looking as if crime has gone down”.
He said the reporting of crime has fallen because of the disillusionment felt by citizens.
While a reduction in serious crimes has been reported between 2012 and 2013, the TTPS has recorded an increase in murders over the same period.
Last year, 407 murders were recorded, as compared to 361 for 2012.
Some 19 murders have already been recorded for this year.
Rowley described it as a “bloodbath”.
He said while the “bloodbath” is taking place, there has been silence from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and a “disaggregation” of the murder toll by National Security Minister Gary Griffith.
On Monday, Griffith said that six out of every ten people killed in 2013 were involved in “serious criminal activities”.
Griffith said because the majority of murders committed in 2013 were criminals killing criminals, it was hard for the Police Service to protect them.
But Rowley took Griffith to task for his comments.
“Today we are being told don’t worry, it is the gang people killing one another, that is not real murder,” Rowley said.
“We are now disaggregating murders into acceptable, more acceptable, less acceptable.
“We call that failure.”
Rowley said when he became Opposition Leader he wrote to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and told her the PNM would support any legislative intervention required to stop the crime scourge.
“We have done all that we can,” Rowley said.
Among the ideas proposed by the PNM was removal of the cumbersome process in selecting a police commissioner.
He described the process like “putting a man on Mars and bringing him back to Russia”.
The PNM suggested that the ambit of the Police Service Commission (PSC) be broadened to select a national to become police commissioner.
The PNM also suggested that the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) be given more authority to deal with rogue police officers.
He said despite these ideas the legislation proposed by the Government was the denial of bail for core crimes.
Rowley said this would have been open to abuse by rogue police officers.