Legislative changes are needed to ensure that persons guilty of firearm offences are not able to easily access bail.

Acting Commissioner of Police says at a time when Trinidad and Tobago is averaging two murders a day, with firearms being the weapon of choice, the Police Service will be maximising use of the anti-gang legislation.

McDonald Jacobs revealed that 27 of the 31 murders reported thus far for 2022 are gang-related, and he believes that makes a strong case for more legislative changes where firearms offences are concerned.

“The firearm is the tool of trade for the criminal. Last year [2021], we seized roughly 670 firearms.  We also charged 1,424 persons for possession of firearms and shooting offences,” the acting top cop explained.

“However, we have the real situation where even though these persons are charged, they get bail in a moment or they get a minor fine,” he pointed out.  “We will be writing to the Government on this, in relation to the whole aspect of bail.”

McDonald Jacob admits the Police Service also must ensure that it tightens up on the prosecutorial side.  He revealed that they are working to ensure that cases are not delayed in the judicial system because of inefficiencies on the part of the Police.

“We need to do work with our case management, so that even though we have a situation where persons cannot get bail for a three- or six-month period, we must ensure we are ready to move on in the court,” he said.

The Acting Police Commissioner noted the Police Service has been arresting and charging those persons who have been involved in shootings and wounding, and even murders. 

“Now, we are working to ensure our files are prepared on time and we are ready [to prosecute],” he said.

He added: “The recent one-stop-shop that we set up at Cumuto concerning the possession of firearms, DNA and linked to the Forensic Science Centre, will now speed up that process in the preparation of the files, because the firearms will be processed more swiftly.”

The acting top cop also reported that the Police Service has seen improvement in its ability to solve serious crimes, especially multiple murders, because of implementing an inter-disciplinary/inter-agency approach and enhancing the training and capability of police officers, along with improved technology, and strong support from the general public.

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McDonald Jacob was guest on CNC3’s “The Morning Brew” show, on Tuesday 18 January 2022.