National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said police statistics show there is no upsurge in criminal activity, contrary to opposition claims.
He was speaking yesterday during the debate in Parliament on Opposition MP Rodney Charles’ private motion calling on the House to rebuke the government for its failure to effectively prevent the rise of criminal activity in the country.
Hinds said these crimes have been committed in Trinidad and Tobago since the birth of the nation and also when the United National Congress (UNC) was in government.
He said statistics from the Crime and Trouble Analysis Unit of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) showed his motion was flawed.
Hinds said there has been a decrease in crime.
“Regarding murders, while murders increased in 2021, 450 of them unfortunately, compared to 2020 which was 399, the statistics still represent a significant decrease from what happened in previous years right before that,” he said.
He noted that there were 519 murders in 2019 and 516 in 2018.
“The data presented shows no indication of a rapid or total increase in murders,” he said.
Hinds said when it comes to break and enters, there has been a significant decrease in break and enters and robberies.
He said that in 2021 there were 1,510 burglaries while in 2020 there were 1,736 burglaries.
He said that in 2017 there were 2,176 break-ins and in 2018 there were 2,026 and in 2019 there were 2,217.
Hinds said so far in 2022 there have been 357 burglaries.
“Again, Madam President, this does not demonstrate that there is a rapid increase in burglaries,” he said.
Hinds said when it comes to robberies, in 2017 some 2,913 were recorded.
He said that in 2018 there were 3,246, in 2019 there were 3,018, in 2020 there were 2,082 and in 2021 there were 1,868.
He said that so far in 2022 there have been 494 such cases.
Hinds said the motion overthrew the government, but members of the government had no powers of arrest.
“If I had, I would have locked up a lot of them but, unfortunately, I don’t!” he said.
He reiterated that the death of a well-known gang leader had recently led to an upsurge in criminal activity.
He added that over the past five years (2017 to 2021), the police department has seized 4,376 illegal firearms.
He said the intelligence-gathering agency told a meeting that there were around 12,000 illegal firearms in the country.
Hinds said his dream is to recover 6,000 illegal firearms over the next six months.
He said police had seized 153 illegal firearms and arrested 215 people so far.
Hinds said the focus would be on illegal firearms, as they contribute to 87% of murders.
He accused the opposition of being hypocrites for not supporting crime-fighting legislation.
“We talk about crime and I haven’t heard a word about Ramdeen or Ramlogan. Not a word on EMBD, not a word on LifeSport,” Hinds said. “This country full of hypocrites and this Parliament is part of this country.”
He said the government had passed legislation to intercept calls from prisons.
“We would know who calls criminals to jail and promises them contracts if they win the election, thank God they didn’t win,” he said.