Who stands to benefit when crime spikes?
In an election year, the question was asked by National Security Minister Stuart Young who suggested that there have been deliberate attempts to destabilise our country.
He made the comment at yesterday’s post Cabinet media briefing, stating that citizens have been facing possible acts of terror and lawlessness with the recent upsurge in the homicide rate and random shootings.
Young admitted that every time a murder/shooting is committed “it is not something we (Government) swallow easily.”
Towards the end of December and in the last 48 hours, he said the country saw a spike in murders.
Young questioned why there were shootings of civilians and police officers who were not linked to anything illegal.
Having put the pieces of the puzzle together, he said there were people in society who wanted to create “a sense of fear and panic in Trinidad and Tobago with what they call the runaway rate of crime. Who is it in our society that stands to gain of pushing this narrative of a homicide rate going upwards…. and why are there instances all of a sudden of certain sporadic shootings of person who are not involved in gang or criminal activity?”
Young said law enforcement officers and intelligence agencies have been trying to connect the dots as to why certain persons would carry out random acts of violence against law-abiding citizens, stating that one reason being was “to create a sense of lawlessness and show that things are out of control.”
He said the police have been investigating the links of certain people and criminals who have been pushing crime in a particular way, promising that more will be revealed soon.
He said it was wrong for people to sell a narrative that the Government has not been tackling crime.
Following the death of Dr Ruradeva Sharma and the killing of two men on Queen Street, Port-of-Spain on Wednesday and the triple murder in Wallerfield yesterday, Young cautioned citizens to be careful where they venture.
The individuals involved the Wallerfield killings, Young said have been categorised by police as “enforcers, drug pushers and drug dealer.”
Questioned if there was a plot by criminals to destabilise society and make the Government look like they are failing in crime, Young said things don’t happen in isolation and there are connections which the police have been investigating.
“It is more than speculative.”
Pressed if there was a political angle to the recent upsurge in crime, Young said there was “more in the mortar than in the pestle. I didn’t make this up.”
During the 2019 local government election campaign, Young expressed concern of a former minister who reappeared on the political scene.
Asked if “that” had any connection to his recent concerns, Young said yes, stating that he expects law enforcement to do the necessary investigations.
Young also expressed worry about criminal elements “having communications and conversing with Opposition (MPs), with respect to, in that instance, the choice of local government election candidates.”
He denied that the new information conveyed by him was an excuse for the Government’s poor handling of crime.
“If you now have certain information of persons standing to gain and actually promoting criminal elements to go out and harm society that is a very serious accusation and allegation.”
Is the State losing the war on crime?
Young said they are very concerned and have been working to bring the murder rate and serious crime down.
When asked by Guardian Media if he had failed in the fight against crime and there have been calls on social media for him to step down, Young said it was not up to him to judge if he had failed or not, insisting that he would continue to do his best.
Young was further asked if one wanted to use the word “terrorism” in random shootings.
“That is interesting because the Commissioner of Police has made the same proposition,” Young said.
With the population on edge with the soaring crime rate and many feeling unsafe to walk the streets of the capital city, Young was questioned if the random shootings was one way to create a disturbance in society.
“The perception of crime is as good as crime itself. I am just cautioning that all that you see is just smoke and mirrors.”
Young promised more emphasis will be placed on crime-fighting initiatives and a higher police presence as Carnival approaches.