Rowley declares crime a public health issue


Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries will meet in Barbados to discuss the crime situation in the region, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said on Monday as his administration warned that the “dramatic escalation in violent crime” is now at a crisis level in the twin-island nation.

Rowley told a news conference following a weekend retreat of his Cabinet that the “plethora of violent and unacceptable conduct” had been observed throughout the country in recent times, and that the government would move ahead with its intentions to address the issue of crime and violence from a public health perspective.

He told reporters that the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) was convinced that increased incidences involving criminals having access to firearms, and their ability to pose a threat to the population, were a result of “shortcoming on the part of the state”.

“We have had inordinate levels of crimes and in the most recent times; and the brazenness, ‘boldfacedness’ and impunity with which criminal elements are operating, largely with the use of firearms, and through the organisations of gangs and hired killers in our community…”He told reporters that he was nonetheless confident in the TTPS, the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) developing the appropriate strategies to deal with the crime situation.

More than 300 people have been murdered in the country so far this year.

He said blamed the crime scourge on domestic violence, violence in schools, violence with the person against person, armed responses for everything, and gains to be had by criminal conduct.

“The intention is to have in the context of this issue we raise in this way, that we develop a national plan of action, and that plan of action would be driven by a public health approach – that approach would involve the defining of the problem.

“I have simply acknowledged there is a problem, and if there is a problem, we will define it. We will identify the causes and the risk factors, we will design response and test the interventions we are going to make, we will implement and scale up the effective interventions, and support continuous evaluation,” Rowley said.

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