PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago government says it will be providing funds for a new initiative aimed at curbing the criminal activities here with the number of murders here so far reaching almost 300.
National Security Minister Stuart Young, speaking to reporters on Sunday, said that the new initiative had been discussed with Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Crime Stoppers after 24 people were gunned down here over the past few days.
But Young acknowledged that the law enforcement authorities would require the assistance of citizens in putting a dent to the crime situation.
“We require the assistance of citizens to have breakthroughs,” he said, adding “I’m happy today to say one of the initiatives we will be rolling out is with respect to illegal firearms.
“We will be offering rewards through the Crime Stoppers programme where persons can call in anonymously and provide law enforcement through Crime Stoppers with information and intelligence to help us locate cachets and stashes from one upwards of illegal firearms and ammunition in Trinidad and Tobago,” said young.
“If we successfully search and recover, as a result of information provided by you the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, caches of illegal firearms, we are prepared to offer rewards for that,’ young said, noting that it would all be worked out in the next few days with Crime Stoppers.
“You, the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, very frequently witness and see crimes taking place or the criminality taking place in your communities. We are today re-energising, reinvigorating and also requesting that you utilise Crime Stoppers, as an anonymous initiative to provide us with the information that we need to get some further breakthroughs with crime taking place across Trinidad and Tobago.”
Young said that it was also impossible for citizens not to witness those crimes.
“We are not asking you at this stage to come forward and give evidence (but) let us utilise these anonymous tip-off points like Crime Stoppers to provide us with the information
“Tell us where the illegal firearms are stored. We’ll get them, and you will remain safe. Tell us the criminal activities in your communities for us to stomp on. We’ll make inroads into fighting crime in Trinidad and Tobago,” Young said, noting “there is no one fix to crime in Trinidad and Tobago.
“We want to take firearms off the street and close down the borders,” he said, as he appealed to the public to support the decision by the government to table legislation that would deny bail to repeat offenders and those caught with illegal firearms for a considerable length of time.
“The vast majority are repeat offenders. Keeping them in jail is going to help us,” Young said noting that the Firearm bill would also outlaw gun-running, raise fines and for a second offence impose a prison term. “This is not draconian. This is what our society requires at this time,” Young said, telling reporters also that the government was not considering implementing a state of emergency here.
“I don’t think the Government has lost the war on crime. The past seven days were unacceptable,” he added.
So far this year, 285 people have been murdered here. Last year, 516 people were murdered in Trinidad and Tobago.