23 Dec 2010

Doing it right, wrong all the time

Even though I read the main article in yesterday’s Express, it was only last night I gave it some thought. Truthfully, not even a lot of thought, a mere skimming the surface. Just enough mind you, for a stark reality to hit – then I put the thoughts aside and went about my business.

In the article, PM KP-B (typing her name is quite a chore, sorry to say) has outlined a 3 step ‘plan’ to combat crime.

“Crime remains our greatest challenge. We have been working on a holistic way of fighting crime,” the Prime Minister said.

Eagerly I read the article - thinking after all - the much awaited, eagerly anticipated, promised-since-campaigning-days crime plan was about to be unfold. I might have well been sipping at the wine of astonishment. Nothing, and I mean nothing she said constituted a ‘crime plan’, or even a plan… and that is itself a crime there I suggest.

The 3 ‘steps’ so ‘outlined’ are no different from/to what has been going on for the past several decades. Admittedly there is some small merit in the application of same… and even in the appearance of application (might win the next election).

The steps so gleaned from the article are:

  1. Poverty Reduction: “Those are the areas of primary concern, where we can nip the criminal before the criminal becomes a criminal,” Persad-Bissessar said. She said this will be done by providing opportunities through education, social services delivery and community development.

  2. Finding the criminal: “Today I believe the secondary level is the most important and that secondary level has to be the higher visibility of police and law enforcement officers out there and the greater enforcement of the law itself ... and so as we continue to work with law enforcement officers in each sector, there are specific details, some of them can be disclosed to the public, some will not be disclosed to the public,” she said.

  3. The Judiciary: “ .... we have to go at the level of the Judiciary as well and give the support to the judiciary, such as is necessary to improve the administration of justice in Trinidad and Tobago,” she said.

So really there is no change from the current failed systems except (and in her own words):

Emphasis, she said, will be placed on finding the criminals. “... this area, it has to do with the law enforcement, the law enforcement agencies of the State, that is to say that you enforce the law, you find criminals,”

According to official police statistics the detection rate for murder is a dismal and abysmal 3.65%. Out of that 3.65%, one percent (of 3.65% – get it clear) result in a conviction!! With an average of 500 murders per year, we essentially see 2 convictions. And with my scepticism, I wonder which of the 2 was beaten into a confession. I have likened police detection as failing to find the cascadoux in the bucket.

PM KP-B however is saying that the same old tried and failed methods is her much awaited, eagerly anticipated, promised-since-campaigning-days crime plan. Either that, or the reporter misunderstood and misreported. Which brings me to the question: have we been doing it right, wrong all the time?