Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 16th 2016 Contents A22 commentary
guardian.co.tt Friday, December 16, 2016
MAKE CRIME INFORMATION PUBLIC
IAN KEVIN RAMDHANIE, MSC,
We want T&T to be more
secure. We're in it for the
good and bad times. We
have a pact with the authorities
to keep us safe. Currently, we're
experiencing some difficult times
that we want to be over quickly.
One way to keep us comfortable in
this relationship is to provide use-
ful information so we can assess
Information, depending on how
it's used, can paint a particular
picture of crime and public safety.
However, it should be for the en-
tire criminal justice system and be
If "reported" crime figures are
used, 2016 is really a mixed year.
Murders are still hurting us badly.
In 2015, there were about 420 mur-
ders and by the end of November
2016, we have matched that figure
with a month still ahead. We added
over 20 more by mid-December
Projections for other serious
crimes for 2016 show we're likely
to surpass 2015.
Burglary and break-in for 2015
was 2,111 while for January to
October 2016, it was 1,857---just
254 short of 2015 with two more
months to go.
Robbery in 2016 was 2,469 while
for January to October 2016, it was
2,091; just 378 short of the 2015 to-
tal. Larceny dwelling house was 237
in 2015 and already 202 up to Octo-
ber 2016. It's possible for 35 more
to occur in November and Decem-
ber 2016 to meet 2015's figure.
For some other serious crimes, it
seems that 2016 may be lesser than
2015. Wounding and shooting in
2015 was 600 and 434 for January
to October 2016. If the average of
43 occurs per month, we shouldn't
reach the 2015 figure.
Larceny of motor vehicles in 2015
was 785 and for January to October
2016, it was 536. We doubt it will
increase that drastic over the next
Sexual crimes are on the de-
crease: 695 in 2015 and 409 for
January to October 2016; unlikely
to cross 2015's figure.
The above is an example of data
we need, ie, whether particular
crimes increased or decreased and
by how much.
However, there are many other
data that we need including the
detection/prosecution rates for
These rates say how many crimes
that were reported to the police
were eventually investigated and
prosecuted. Did they change from
last year? We want a high detection
The conviction rates for each
crime type are critical.
It's the extent to which pros-
ecutors were able to get a guilty
verdict. If this is low, we need to
know why the state isn't winning
Also, what are the conviction
trends for certain crimes, prose-
cutors, investigators, etc? Addi-
tionally, low convictions mean that
there are criminals walking freely
around. A scary reality!
We need to know to what extent
ex-prisoners are re-incarcer-
ated for other crimes. Baseline
data were collected by Professor
Ramesh Deosaran and Ian Ram-
How does this rate compare
to last year's and for particular
crimes? For instance, are prison-
ers returning to prison more for
gun-related crimes and less for
sex-related crimes? We want a low
prisoner recidivism rate!
We want data on the backlog of
cases in the various courts. Are
they being reduced, worsened, or
the same and at what proportions?
What are we seriously doing to
clear the backlogs? Are interven-
tions working for some courts and
crimes and not others?
Was the average time it took for
criminal matters to be completed
in the courts reduced, increased or
remained the same when compared
to last year?
Again, how does this vary by
crime type? For example, is it that
white-collar crime matters get
dealt with faster or slower than
We'll like information on the
number of outstanding investi-
gations and cases for comparative
years. This case-closure rate will
assist in building public confidence
in the investigation process.
Also, what's the number of cold
cases and are they decreasing?
Should top retired investigators be
brought back on contract?
Information on not only the
number of people who were given
tickets and other punishments for
traffic offences is needed, but also,
what proportion of offenders were
issued second and third sanctions?
We'll thus know if current punish-
ments have a deterrent effect.
We'll like data on the number of
investigations, arrests, prosecution
and convictions of white-collar
criminals as compared to last year.
How do these figures compare with
There must be similar empha-
sis on these crimes too as it will
greatly assist in feelings of fairness,
equality and equity.
We'll like information as to
whether the types and severity of
sentences prescribed by magis-
trates and judges for similar crimes
are generally consistent under-
standing that each case is different.
There's the public perception
that disparities exist and we need
to address such national concerns.
It's important to get data on how
many verdicts and sentences that
were overturned or adjusted by
higher courts and whether they are
trends for particular crimes, judi-
cial officers and courts.
We also have to honour our part
of the pact by supporting the of-
ficers and systems.
However, like in any relation-
ship, we must be guaranteed of
confidentiality and safety as we
share information especially as
we're in it for the long haul!
The CISPS has over 120 profes-
sional development courses for or-
ganisations and individuals on risk
assessment, dispute resolution,
fraud detection and prevention,
corporate security, supervision and
management, OSH policies, etc. Tel:
223-6999, 299-8636, info@caribbe-
ansecurityinstitute.com or www.
NO MORE 'JUST THE WAY THINGS ARE'
If I could wish on a December
super moon, large and bright
enough to grant both Christmas
requests and New Year resolutions,
I'd wish for a Trinidad and Tobago
where I didn't have to write so re-
peatedly about sexual violence.
I'd lift spirits with a story of
Ziya discovering Queen Latifah
and Monie Love's 1989 feminist
hit, Ladies First, and it rolling on
repeat through this week's traffic
while she excessively bops her
neck and spits like they do, "Some
think that we can't flow (can't
flow)/Stereotypes, they got to go
(got to go)."
It's all in that song. Opening
shots of women rebels like So-
journer Truth, Harriet Tubman,
Angela Davis and a young Winnie
"Ain't I a Woman," they would
ask, and don't I deserve every
right due to me, every moment of
equality and every experience of
Later, a chorus follows that flips
"ladies first" into reverse, from
mere precious chivalry to women
exercising self-defining political
and lyrical power.
The video backdrop is a
bombed-out housing project
which, when we cut to BBC world
radio, mixes straight to breaking
images of a bombed-out Aleppo.
Queen La foregrounds news
footage of armed struggle against
apartheid in South Africa.
I show Zi Google images of chil-
dren on the other side of the world
so that she can make sense of to-
Truth is, I haven't yet figured
out how to script for what's pres-
ent and here. After remembering
the names of 47 women killed this
year, at last Saturday's Life in Leg-
gings gathering, I returned home
Ziya knows about patriarchy,
simplified as "when men think
they are more powerful than wom-
en," but I don't have adequate
language to talk to her about why
the flow of some women's lives
is abruptly stopped or how much
longer it will take to end stereo-
types that got to go.
The message to girls is to learn to
protect themselves, but how to ex-
plain why they are so vulnerable to
sexual harm, and why self-defence
classes are as much a solution as
TTPS report that, in 2015, there
were 180 female rape victims
under 18 years old plus 109 over
18. Officially classified as "rape,"
though indicating a different
kind of vulnerability, particularly
without proper sex education in
schools, sex with females 14-16
years old accounted for 137 cases
while sex with females under 14
years old accounted for 112 cases.
That was last year alone, and
only rape cases that reached the
The last thing those girls need
to be asked is, why didn't you fight
back, like an out of timing tune
whose refrain is, what more could
you have done to stop this happen-
ing to you.
In war-free T&T, I'm clear about
which lyrics to flip. The first is that
girls and women have personal re-
sponsibility for our safety. No. We
do not open ourselves up to attack
Sex crimes are the responsibility
of the attacker, whether it happens
at home by someone a girl knows
or on in public by a stranger. Sex-
ual violence is neither normal nor
It is not "just the way things
Sexuality spliced with everyday
violence is fundamentally a sign of
things not being as they should be.
This creates rape culture, where
gender-based violence is sexual-
ised, and where there is pervasive
and passive acceptance of female
vulnerability, victim-blaming and
Verse after verse, voice after
voice, we must hold governments
accountable, whether in relation
to the never-approved national
gender policy or in relation to
the never-implemented National
Strategic Action Plan on Gender
Based and Sexual Violence.
Back-up voices must pitch for
police and judiciary accountabil-
ity, and successful prosecution of
the majority of cases, stopping in
its tracks such repetitive impunity.
In the dark night sky that will
usher in a new year, enough stars
will be visible for every one of
these wishes, though all they really
require is state and social will.
When Zi asks, why violence
against women, why Aleppo, and
I turn off the radio, not knowing
exactly what to say, you'll under-
stand why some mornings I turn
up the volume and set Ladies First
DIARY OF A MOTHERING WORKER
Sex crimes are the
responsibility of the
it happens at home
by someone a girl
knows or on in public
by a stranger. Sexual
violence is neither
normal nor inevitable.
It is not "just the way
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