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National Security Minister says he does not have
a crime plan. What he has are 21st century national
security policies with a heavy emphasis on intel-
"It s very banana republic to be talking about crime
plans," Griffith said during a spirited contribution in
the Lower House on an Opposition motion which
said the mishandling of the State s security systems
and apparatus had contributed to the spiralling crime
The motion, brought by Port-of-Spain South MP
Marlene McDonald, further charged that the Gov-
ernment has been unable to effectively reduce crime
and called on it to take immediate steps towards this.
Griffith spoke after being lambasted by Diego
Martin East MP Colm Imbert for the high crime
However, Griffith said the Opposition s road march
was "SAUTT, OPV, OPV, SAUTT," and began by
giving statistics which showed that when SAUTT
was at its finest, the blimp was hovering and the
OPVs were around, crime was at its highest. He said
statistics also showed a crime pattern; whenever the
People s National Movement (PNM) was in power
it went up and whenever they went out of power,
it went down.
Imbert made frequent trips out of the chamber
and Opposition MPs grew silent as he read the sta-
Griffith said from 1991 to 1995, when the PNM
returned to power after the National Alliance for
Reconstruction, crime went up every single year.
Between 1995 and 2001, when the United National
Congress (UNC) was in power, crime went down.
It rose again from 2001 to 2011 while the PNM was
in power. From 2010 to the present time, crime has
started to go back down, he said.
He said in 2008, when SAUTT was at its finest,
the murder rate was 547, but it was reduced to 405
"We inherited a monster based on people affiliating
themselves with gangs and calling them community
Griffith s stinging criticisms of the last adminis-
tration s crime plans elicited responses from its former
prime minister Patrick Manning, who returned to
Parliament recently after a two-year extended sick
leave because of a stroke. He remained largely silent.
"That is not true. That is ole talk," Manning said,
"I m hearing his voice. He s awake," Griffith said.
He said SAUTT was led by former military people,
whom the Opposition insists should not be involved
in fighting crime with the police.
Griffith said his national security policies include
the setting up of the National Security Operations
Centre (NSOC), which has replaced SAUTT in intel-
ligence sharing and gathering.
He said real time video footage fed into the NSOC
is now transmitted directly to the police and other
national security agencies. The use of interceptors
in the drug smuggling trade and a programme to
make citizens more comfortable in giving the police
information are also coming, he said.
With a record murder rate so far for
2014, T&T can be described as one of the
deadliest nations in the world, Opposition
MP Colm Imbert said yesterday.
He made the comment in presenting a
private motion in the name of Port-of-
Spain South MP Marlene McDonald in the
House of Representatives, as he noted the
public was losing its patience with all the
unkept promises on crime.
The motion contended that violent crime
continues to be at an unacceptable level
and the Government has been unable to
effectively reduce it. It called on MPs to
insist the Government take immediate steps
to deal with the unacceptable crime level.
Up to press time yesterday, the murder
rate was 46 in 31 days.
Imbert began his presentation saying: "If
boasting, grand charge and gun talk would
deal with the crime situation, this Govern-
ment would have solved our crime problem,"
adding the Government seems to believe
boasting and idle threats will solve the prob-
He recalled that in 2005 while Transport
Minister Stephen Cadiz was chairman of
the Keith Noel Foundation, he led a death
march in Port-of-Spain, demanding that
the crime problem be solved immediately
by the then People s National Movement
government. He said now that Cadiz was
in the Government, he was implying that
the solution cannot be found immediately
and would take a longer period.
Noting that he was unaware of any mur-
der occurring yesterday up to the time of
his contribution, Imbert said: "As of yes-
terday (Thursday), 45 people had been killed
for the month of January 2014."
Chief whip McDonald chimed in: "That
is a record."
Imbert said Cadiz was not marching
against crime now.
"He is saying the population has to wait,
that is what he is saying now," Imbert told
legislators, adding that after almost four
years in office, the Government could no
longer call on the citizenry to exercise
patience on the high crime levels.
Saying he was dealing with the substantive
issue, Imbert said with 45 murders in 30
days translated for the year would result in
"a grand total in 2014 of 547 (murders) at
the rate we are going."
According to the Diego Martin North/East
MP, based on the number of murders in
the first 14 days of the year the country
would have had an estimated 700 murders
He said T&T features among world dead-
liest nations in the world. He quoted a
December 2010 article published in the
Huffington Post which ranked T&T tied
with Colombia as the 13 ranked nations for
"If you take the murder pattern for Jan-
uary 2014, we will end up with a murder
per capita of over 40 per hundred thousand
for this year," he said.
Imbert said that "will place us among
the deadliest countries in the world, put us
with Guatemala and other countries where
life is extremely cheap."
He said facing that situation, the Gov-
ernment was only boasting.
He said the Government had dismantled
many initiatives of the previous government
to deal with crime, including the Special
Anti Crime Unit of T&T, it cancelled the
multi-million-dollar contract with BAE to
purchase three offshore patrol vessels and
it sold the blimp (airship) which provided
Imbert said because of those measures
and others, the country now has no ability
to protect its borders, no special units to
deal with gang crimes, no ability to deal
with surveillance, and zero ability to have
a focused and comprehensive ability to deal
Imbert: Murder rate giving us bad rep
We inherited a
Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert has the full attention of Port-of-Spain North/St Ann's
West MP Patricia McIntosh during his contribution yesterday. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
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