Serious crimes have been on the decrease during the current COVID-19 pandemic in T&T.

This was confirmed on Wednesday by National Security Minister, Stuart Young, during the daily media briefing hosted by the Ministry of Health, on the COVID-19 situation in this country.

Minister Young said the decrease in serious crimes may also have been as a result of the ministry “implementing a lot of operations to deal with it”.

“I can assure you that a lot of work is being done to keep that crime and criminality down. The measures are very specific measures to deal with COVID-19 in trying to make Trinidad and Tobago a safer place,” Young said.

The data

According to statistics sent to the Guardian Media by the T&T Police Service’s (TTPS) Crime and Problem Analysis (CAPA) Branch, for the month of March this year, the total number of reports of serious crimes stood at 741, with a 29 per cent detection rate—as compared to 1,191 reports with a 37 per cent detection rate in 2018; and 1,135 reports with a 33 per cent detection rate in 2019 same period.

The CAPA data notes this year’s figure of 741 reports included 35 murders; 48 reports of shooting and wounding incidents; 29 reports of rape, incest and sexual offences; and 189 reports of robberies.

Quick acting cops

On Tuesday, this week, at about 1 am, the quick action of police officers resulted in the prevention of a burglary at a jewellery store in Tunapuna.

According to a police report, officers were on routine mobile patrol along the Eastern Main Road when they observed a group of men running away from a jewellery store.

The officers stopped by the store to investigate and observed several bags containing tools, which could be used to break into the premises. The bags and tools were seized, and the officers attempted to chase the suspects; however, they escaped.

The officers have since reviewed CCTV footage from buildings nearby, and arrests are said to be imminent.

Police enforcing COVID-19 regulations

On March 18, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith advised citizens that police officers will ramp up the enforcement of the country’s loitering laws over the coming weeks in an attempt to keep people from assembling in large numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Griffith said this is being done in line with the request of Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Security Council, Dr Keith Rowley, that the public practises social distancing at this time.

On March 16, PM Rowley had called on bars to be closed, restaurants to curtail their business operations and for citizens not to assemble in large numbers in an effort to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, the CoP said while a large section of the population has adhered to the request, he anticipates that few would refuse to comply. Still, he said he hopes there would be no need to enforce the laws relating to loitering and assured that over the coming weeks, the TTPS would increase its patrols across the country.

The Police Commissioner has asserted that the Police Service will act in accordance with Section 45 (c) of the Summary Offences Act, Chapter 11:02, which states:

IDLE AND DISORDERLY PERSONS

A person committing any of the offences mentioned below in this section may be deemed an idle and disorderly person, and shall be liable to a fine of two hundred dollars, or to imprisonment for one month—

(a) any person who, being able by labour or other lawful means to maintain himself or his wife or child, where such wife or child is without other means of support, refuses or neglects to do so

(b) any person wandering abroad or placing himself in any street to beg or gather alms, or causing or procuring or encouraging any child to do so

(c) any person found sleeping or loitering in or under any building, including any open outhouse, verandah, gallery, passage, or gateway, or in any vehicle or vessel, without leave of the owner, occupier or person in charge thereof, or on or under any wharf, quay, jetty, bridge, footway, or in any street or other public place, and not giving a good account of himself

(d) any person who, without leave of the owner or occupier, affixes any placard or notice upon any building, wall, pillar, post, or fence, or otherwise defaces the same;

(e) any person pretending or professing to tell fortunes

Story by RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT