4 Jan 2010

Crime numbers that eluded Martin Joseph

It's New Year's Day 2010, and all that was on my mind is the murder rate dropping and Martin Joseph beating his chest and saying that he kept his promise. The murder rate did in fact drop, based on the statistics reported by the Ministry of National Security.

I took some time out and did an internet search on crime statistics in T&T and stumbled upon the following website: http://www.ttps.gov.tt/Statistics/ tabid/141/Default.aspx.

This website gave some interesting statistics and many thanks to the Police Service and by extension the Government for having at least two years of serious crime statistics. Some persons may already know about this but for those who don't know it categorises and breaks down serious reported crimes that have occurred during the last two years with the exception of December 2009 (not updated as yet).

If we accept that the murder rate has decreased based on the reported statistics, then that is a good sign.

However, I decided to dig a bit deeper to look at the other serious crimes. Please note that these are 'reported' crimes, and naturally does not take account of the 'unreported' crimes that do occur mainly because people have absolutely lost faith in the Police Service given the widely known and accepted perception that there are pockets of the Service which are not functioning properly and officers are not performing as they should.

Anyway, some of the statistics were stunning. Total serious reported crimes were 16,758 for 2008 as opposed to 20,113 est. (made up of 18,437 to end of November 2009 plus an imputed amount of 1,679 being the average of January to November of 2009).

The Police Service Serious Crime Statistics are made up of crimes such as murders, woundings and shootings, burglaries and break-ins, narcotics, robberies, rape, incest and sexual offences, larceny etc. So let's look at this closely. Year over year, there has been approximately a 20 per cent increase in total serious crimes despite there being a decrease in the murder rate of just over seven per cent between 2008 and 2009.

I then looked at the statistics for burglaries and break-ins and found that there were 4,483 burglaries and break-ins in 2008 compared with 5,545 est. (5,083 to end of November 2009 plus an imputed amount of 462 being the average of January to November of 2009). This represents an increase of over 23 per cent year over year.

The same can be said for the category 'Robberies' where the reported robberies for 2008 were 4,737 as compared with 5,760 robberies in 2009 (5,280 to end of November 2009 plus and imputed amount of 480 being the average of January to November of 2009). This represents an increase of over 21 per cent year over year. I encourage the citizens to look at the other statistics as well and you can see that overall serious crimes have increased rather than decreased.

So for the people of T&T and in particular the diehard Government supporters, take a close look at what this says-not only the plus 20 per cent increase in serious reported crimes but the actual figure of total reported serious crimes in relation to our population and as compared to other countries.

Using an average of 20,000 reported serious crimes for 2009 and a population of 1.3 million people, serious crime affects one in every 65 persons (1,300,000 divided by 20,000) and making a further deduction from this, if we assume an average of four persons per family, then we're talking about one serious crime in every 16 families. For those who don't know it yet, crime is at your doorstep!

I would also advise the Minister of National Security that when he's making pronouncements on the crime situation that he should provide a total picture of the crime scourge in T&T and not only what would incorrectly portray him as apparently having some measure of control or reduction of/in crime. It is quite the opposite.

Until such time that there is a marked decrease in crime, I maintain that the Minister, with all due respect, is the most incompetent and has failed miserably. If the shirt fits for the Acting Police Commissioner as well, then by all means he should wear it.

Anand Heeraman


From the Express Newspaper.