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Poor turnout at anti-crime meeting
The National Crime Prevention Programme (NCPP) can collapse without adequate community support.
This point was made by retired Major General Rodney Smart, the national coordinator of the NCPP, as the programme held its inaugural public outreach engagement on Thursday night at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation at Cumberbatch Street.
Only a handful of people turned out for the event. Smart, a former Chief of Defence Staff, said the plan focuses on crime prevention utilising the strength of the community and relevant stakeholders to identify problems at one side of the equation that can be changed using community, State resources and possible resources from international agencies.
He said while the Police Service and Defence Force would be focusing on crime fighting, the real power was in the hands of the residents.
“The only thing to cause this to fail is a community, the only thing. I like to say this thing here we don’t know where it would end. We know where it is starting; it has so much potential, we don’t know where it would end,” he said.
Smart called on residents to volunteer to be part of a community crime prevention council.
Smart said the challenges in Chaguanas may be different from other parts of the country. He said each region may have to develop their own programme. He said NCPP would set up a liaison officer at the Chaguanas Borough Corporation where members of the public can take their concerns to if they feel uncomfortable to speak with the police and relevant authorities.
Citing examples, he said, sometimes the infrastructure of an area may encourage crime.
He said developmental issues as skills among young people are another issue that can be pinpointed and corrected.
He said the Tobago House of Assembly, the Diego Martin Regional Corporation and the Chaguanas Borough Corporation were chosen for the initial phase of the programme which would later expand to the remaining regional bodies across the country.
Chaguanas Mayor Gopaul Boodhan said if crime cannot be solved in the community and by the community, it cannot be solved at all.
“This is our responsibility, this is our commitment and this is what we have to make happen,” he said.
Members of the public raised issues as poor street lighting, poor consultation when legislation is drafted, the need to legalise marijuana and prostitution.
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