The feedback from last weeks article included some questions
by people who were depressed and frustrated, asking what can
be done about the crime situation. With a murder toll nearing
400 it is not a pretty picture facing the nation as we head
for our end-of-the-year murder tally.
The Criminal Justice system also has come under increasing
scrutiny within recent weeks as witnesses give strange and
conflicting testimonies in a tale that becomes more curious
and disturbing, the more we hear of it.
The Chief Justice in his report for the opening of the Law
Term raised the issue of the removal of preliminary inquiries
as a means of speeding up the justice system.
Everyone has thoughts, ideas and suggestions as to how to
tackle crime in T&T, but we, as citizens, are sometimes
long on talk and short on action, so I will share with readers
some ideas I had previously published on the Crimestoppers
Part of the difficulty faced by the authorities is the fact
that there often is not enough information coming to them
about the perpetrators of crimes. The Crimestoppers programme
plays a vital role in assisting here. Crimestoppers, which
is an internationally recognised programme, has for the past
30 years assisted law enforcement agencies the world over.
We of the local arm of Crimestoppers, do not profess to know
all the answers or to have any magic pill for the crime problem,
but we know our programme works. We know it has yielded results
and we know that it has made a dent in the crime situation
here in T&T.
At the recent International Crimestoppers conference in Iowa,
our local programme won four awards and was recognised for
Our programme is guided by a board comprised entirely of volunteers
who give of their time, talents and expertise to ensure the
system whereby callers can call in with information about
crimes and criminal activity is secure and confidential.
We can pass on this report to the Police authorities, monitor
and track its progress to ensure that it is investigated.
If the investigation results in the arrest and apprehension
of a suspect who is subsequently charged, then a reward is
offered in respect of the information provided.
The system is founded on anonymity and is processed simply
by the use of assigned code numbers. We do not use names or
addresses of callers and there is no caller identification
or call back features in our telephone systems.
The success and results of our programme are documented, especially
upon its revamping and revival, which began when this writer
headed the chairmanship under the auspices of the Trinidad
and Tobago Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the Ministry
of National Security.
The Prime Minister recognised the value of the programme when
he appointed the chairman to be part of the Ken Gordon Crime
Committee and one of the most successful recommendations arising
out of that committee was the greater role for Crimestoppers
As a result, there have been some spectacular drug busts,
lots of information leading to the arrest and charging of
people for kidnapping, murder, rape, firearms and ammunition
offences and the like.
We have actively partnered with the Government and also with
corporate entities such as TSTT, BWIA and various chambers
of commerce across the country to make a strong secure network
of Crimestoppers T&T.
While it is a private sector initiative, it remains a programme
for the public as none of it could get done without the help
from the public.
We also are greatly indebted to the Government and indeed,
our programme has won praise internationally, for the high
and intensive level of government support that we enjoy.
Our team of call-takers and administrative professionals also
deserve kudos as they work behind the scenes to keep the machinery
going and make sure things work smoothly.
Our Crimestoppers programme had a successful community billboard
initiative where there are prizes up to a value of about one
million dollars, for people, groups and communities to enhance
and improve the image, visibility and awareness of the Crimestoppers
signage in their communities.
Corporate entities can get involved by assisting us with the
sponsorship of various initiatives and campaigns.
The ordinary citizen can assist by calling in with information
and helping in the fight against crime while getting a reward
for doing so and police can play their role by actively and
aggressively pursuing and following up on such leads.
The Crimestoppers programme continues to provide such an avenue
and mechanism, whereby instead of just talking about the problem,
ordinary citizens can get involved and do something to help
in combating crime.