crime poll hard to swallow
has greeted upbeat findings of the Mori poll commissioned
by the Government to survey public opinion on the state
of national well-being.
For a government battered by adverse reports about crime
in T&T, the good-news message reported by the Mori pollsters
So welcome, indeed, that the Ministry of Public Administration
and Information rushed to spread the word, while crime advisories
by foreign governments and and crime reporting by US newspapers
were still hot topics.
Reports said families in Central, scared by the kidnapping
threat, were emigrating. Two high-profile killings commanded
headlines. The German artist Jürgen Klaus Keck, resident
in T&T, was killed by bandits who also robbed his home.
Carl Stone, said to be a close friend and political supporter
of Prime Minister Patrick Manning, was shot dead in the
street, his car stolen.
All this had hardly been digested by the T&T public
when the Government released Mori poll findings that were
simply hard to swallow. Those findings suggested that the
vast majority feel untroubled.
Apparently more than 88 per cent of respondents told Mori
they felt very safe or fairly safe
walking alone in or around their neighbourhood. In another
astonishing finding, Mori reported 75 per cent felt safe
in their homes after dark.
That so many citizens could feel unthreatened by the crime
swirling and surging around them sounds too good to be true.
It probably is, unless it is possible to imagine T&T
people tough-minded, unconcerned or deluded enough not to
be affected by news headlines, and the pervasive sense that
the crime menace is coming ever closer home.
Exceptionally protected, Mr Manning must feel that way after
the killing of his friend and political collaborator. It
took place in his own constituency; the body of Mr Stone
was left unattended in the street for hours as neighbours
were too scared to come out.
To judge from its statement last Monday, the National Security
Ministry also refuses to be impressed by those consoling
Mori poll results.
understandable was how the Ministry described the
travel advisories. It reported continued vigilance against
crime, with the security forces remaining on a war footing.
The police and army will continue to intensify their
patrols, including foot and mobile patrols, the Ministry
said, appealing for public support.
If the Mori poll will guide policy in crime and security,
thats not yet evident from what the National Security
Ministry is saying.
The inescapable feeling that Mori somehow lost its way is
confirmed by Derek Chadee, UWI lecturer and manager of the
ANSA McAL Research Centre. In a critique of Mori, Dr Chadee
described the findings as not only intuitively inconsistent...but
also internally inconsistent.
He cited the contradictory finding that 81 per cent of the
population felt that crime and personal safety should be
a priority of Vision 2020.
Moreover, Moris findings contradict those by ANSA
McAL Psychological Research Centre, published in the Sunday
Guardian, showing over the last six years at least 50 per
cent admit to a high fear of crime.
Dr Chadee assails the phrasing of the poll questions designed
by UK-based Mori, suggesting it might not have been applicable
to T&T conditions.
The T&T masses are experiencing one thing...and the
UK-based Mori poll is saying something else, Dr Chadee concluded.
By promoting Mori against the evidence of peoples
eyes, the Government opens up itself to the accusation of
purveying transparently self-serving propaganda.