The TTWhistleblower today begins a series that explores the history of crime and criminal activity under the current and previous PNM Administrations.
We will explore the levels of crime from 1991 to the present, analyse the recent debate on the Anti-Terrorism legislation, and the Rowley Administration’s obstruction of the appointment of a Commissioner of Police following a Special Select Committee Report of the Parliament.
Our figures, findings and evidence could well show that historically, the PNM has undertaken policy and political measures that either failed to quell crime, or exacerbated crime and criminal activity.
The public outrage over the Keith Rowley Administration’s failure to fight crime appears to be history repeating itself with the PNM.
Friday’s scolding of the Minister of National Security in Parliament is just another in a series of public displays of that failure in issues coming to the fore surrounding this country’s crime and criminality crisis.
But the PNM has been busy…
A Special Select Committee of the Parliament which had a majority of Government members debated the appointment of a Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police, attempting to ignore a Minority Report presented by the Parliamentary Opposition.
The Attorney General also presented the Anti-Terrorism Bill together with findings of a Joint Select Committee intended to make amendments to the legislation.
The Prime Minister was heard at a political meeting of the PNM telling supporters that a cache of arms found at a Cunupia Mosque justified his search of the facility during the Carnival terror scare, without saying that it was Mosque officials that found the arms and called the Police; it was not a raid.
NO CLOSER TO SAFETY
Despite all of the talk and debate, Trinidad and Tobago is still no closer to being a safer, more stable country, nor is the fear of crime any less.
To truly understand how crime seems to have spiraled under the Rowley Administration, it is important to explore the history of PNM Administrations and their performance in controlling and fighting criminality.
PNM CRIME STATISTICS
The present and previous PNM Administration’s crime record are clear, but not new. There has been rank failure and in fact, substantial increases in crime and criminality.
In 1991, a total of 16,157 violent crimes were recorded. The PNM under the late Prime Minister Patrick Manning had taken over from the previous NAR Government in that year.
By 1992, 17,680 violent crimes were recorded and by the following year, 19,345 violent crimes were recorded.
For the first half of 1994, almost 10,000 violent crimes were recorded, creating an estimated further increase to approximately 20,000 violent crimes for that year.
White collar crimes recorded in 1993 stood at 115, and increased to 164 by 1994.
By 1995, the United National Congress Panday Administration took office, heralding a sustained decrease in violence and crime. In 1994, over 143 murders were recorded for the year. By 1999, there were 93 murders for the year, with a marked decrease in car thefts, burglaries, domestic violence and sex crimes.
A return to violence, crime and intense fear of criminal activity saw annual increases in murder with 229 murders in 2003; 260 murders in 2004 and 386 murders in 2005.
By 2008, the PNM presided over an unprecedented spike in violence to 550 murders and 155 kidnappings for ransom. In 2009, violence remained frighteningly high at 509 and kidnappings remained a fixture of weekly news coverage.
Gang-related crimes increased substantially between 2004 and 2010.
Some gang leaders politically and financially connected to the PNM, were even employed in senior positions in Housing and Public Works programmes.
Reports during 2007 and 2008 pointed to an over 300 percent increase in crime; an average of 42 crimes per day and a rate of 4 kidnappings per week. There were only two convictions for murder in 2006.
Just like today’s PNM, the facts were stared in the face, and denied.
In February 2008, the former President Anthony Carmona was a High Court Judge and as he ruled in a case he presided over, described as “delusional” and “irresponsible” statements an official had made that there were no criminal elements in the URP.
The Trinidad Express article quoting then Justice Carmona’s comments went further saying Police statistics showed that over 100 of the victims of gangland killings since 2002 (up to 2008) were either URP supervisors, foremen, contractors or workmen.
Moreover, the 25th February 2008 article stated: “Government involvement in hiring and awarding of contracts to known criminals has also been well documented… under the PNM Government, several key crime figures identified by the police, including Mark Guerra, Kerwin “Fresh” Phillip, Sheldon “Crock” Scott, Glenroy “Abdul Malick” Charles and Salim “Small Salim” Rasheed, among others, have amassed millions through the URP and what was then the NHA refurbishing projects.”
ANOTHER PNM RETURN
With crime and violence having decreased to the lowest rate in over 30 years under the People’s Partnership Government, according to the Police Service, the PNM returned in 2015 and, for some reason, the figures took the same turn as in 1991 and 2002.
In 2015, the total number of crimes reported stood at 11,135.
In 2017, the total number of crimes reported stood at 13,113.
The classifications of offences give a deeper look at the crime increase with the change of Administration.
Narcotics offences, in September 2015, there were a total of 23 narcotics offences.
By September 2017, more than double – 48.
Robberies…in September 2015, there were 199 robberies reported.
In September 2017, there were 261 robberies reported.
More current to the biggest concern of the population, however, is murders.
In January 2015, 30 murders were committed.
In January 2018, 60 murders were committed.
And these statistics are available at the website of the Police Service.
WHAT CHANGED? WHAT DIDN’T?
When looking at the numbers we must look at the things that have remained the same, and the things that have changed.
The Prime Minister has used all sorts of excuses, but when the previous Government brought crime under control, the person leading the Police Service was the same person who sits in the Commissioner’s chair now.
Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams was the man in charge when crime was more under control; the expertise he depended on might have been the same; his advisors might have been the same.