Crime does not discriminate. The victims and perpetrators of crime span all political affiliations, ethnicities, religions, social standings, and income levels. No matter which sector of society we identify with, we must have the humility to accept this fact, put aside emotions and work together for all our citizens. All citizens must equally feel safe in Trinidad and Tobago.
The current crime crisis demands that all leaders in our country exercise humility and prudence to protect our citizens. Therefore, I again request that Keith Rowley reconsider his refusal to the offers of cooperation from the UNC and all other interested and willing stakeholders in our country to address this crime crisis.
We must show the criminal element in our nation that we are determined to arrest the crime problem and are united in the effort to protect our citizens.
Respectfully, I am disappointed that Keith Rowley has flatly refused to collaborate with me, the UNC and the former COP Gary Griffith to reduce the violent crime crisis plaguing our nation. Ideally, this could have been an opportunity to merge state policy and operational know-how in the crime fight.
Some facts about our current crime crisis are:
· Last year a record 605 murders occurred and the murder rate this year has surpassed last year’s.
· Extortion of businesses by both criminals and corrupt members of the police service is on a dramatic increase.
· Multiple murders are being committed in public spaces in daylight, with criminals seemingly acting with impunity.
· There is an alarming number of home invasions, whereby criminals now feel emboldened to brazenly enter homes at any hour without fear.
· As Opposition Leader, I met with the Prime Minister on two occasions previously to discuss a bilateral approach to dealing with this issue.
· Multiple proposals were put forward by the UNC, but Keith Rowley refused to consider these proposals.
· Since August 2020, in the 12th republican parliament the following anti-crime bills supported by the opposition:
1. The Summary Courts (Amendment) Bill, 2021
2. The Sexual Offences (Amendment)(No.2) Bill, 2021
3. Firearms (Amendment) Bill, 2021
4. The Electronic Payments into and out of Court (Amendment) Bill, 2021
5. The Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (Amendment) Bill, 2021
6. The Anti-Gang Bill, 2021
7. The Evidence (Amendment) Bill, 2020
8. The Miscellaneous Provisions (Special Reserve Police and Police Complaints Authority) Bill, 2020
9. The Miscellaneous Provisions (Administration of Justice) Bill, 2020
The unprecedented level of criminality requires a multi-faceted and cooperative approach which draws on expertise from all sectors of society.
The UNC has presented a comprehensive plan to address the root causes of crime and implement short, medium and long-term solutions.
Some plans are for:
· Increased investment in education
· Job creation
· Social programmes
· Rehabilitation policies and plans for prisoners
· Bail reform
· Updated law enforcement training
· Adjustments to ministerial portfolios
· Scientific improvements in training, investigations, and data analysis for crime prevention
· New legislation such as stand your ground and home invasion laws
· Increased access to legal firearms for citizens
The people of Trinidad and Tobago deserve to live in a safe and secure environment, and not in a state of constant fear and uncertainty.
We must set aside vanity and egotism, too many lives are being lost and destroyed. We must work together.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition