“The Anti-Gang Bill, sunset clause or not, suffers from the same ills as every other piece of legislation in Trinidad and Tobago: to be effective, it must be enforced! For enforcement to take place, the Police Service needs to do a better job, a much, much better job. To ascertain proof beyond reasonable doubt, one requires evidence, which the Police Service seems to be clueless about.”
The following Letter to the Editor, which suggests reasons why the recently passed Anti-Gang Bill is unlikely to be effective in reducing crime, was submitted to Wired868 by Mohan Ramcharan of Birmingham, England:
Both the government and the Opposition (when they were the government) have been touting the Anti-Gang Bill as a panacea for the horrendous crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago. Aside from it being a badly drafted piece of legislation, there is no evidence whatsoever that the Anti-Gang legislation did work in the past; therefore, there is little doubt that it will ever work in the future.
As an example, the State is now required to pay compensation to several persons who were detained under the previous Anti-Gang Act, as can be seen using the following link to a Guardian newspaper article. (http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2018-03-01/state-settles-soe-lawsuits).
“During the SoE, which lasted from September to December 2011, hundreds of suspected gang leaders and members were rounded up by police and charged under the controversial Anti-Gang Act. All were eventually freed by the DPP’s Office because there was no evidence submitted by the police to support their detention.”
The Anti-Gang Bill, sunset clause or not, suffers from the same ills as every other piece of legislation in Trinidad and Tobago: to be effective, it must be enforced! For enforcement to take place, the Police Service needs to do a better job, a much, much better job. To ascertain proof beyond reasonable doubt, one requires evidence, which the Police Service seems to be clueless about.
From all appearances, the entire Police Service (from commissioner to constable) is of the belief that arresting people is sufficient proof that the job is done correctly.
I have often said that the Police Service suffers collectively from an intellectual—and best practice—approach to fighting crime. There may be individual officers at all levels who will have the occasional shining moments but, for the most part, the organisation is bereft of motivation and capability. Sadly, this reflects the culture built up over decades within the organisation and without. Not only is it virtually impossible to stamp out, it will continue to grab new recruits in its tentacles and corrupt them in the same manner—after all, their teachers have already been “institutionalised” by that particular culture.
Put another way, it is impossible to teach old dogs new tricks.
I have little hope that crime, currently rising to intolerable levels, will actually be reined in over the next 20 years. This is partly because the local police are incapable, partly because they refuse to learn modern and effective policing methods, partly because they do not want external and qualified leaders, partly because those on a managerial level are probably even more ineffective than appears to be the case—one very senior police officer even boasted about how high he has risen through the ranks with only a school leaving certificate!
With that attitude, one can only despair. There is a vast difference between rising up the ranks on merit and qualifications and rising through the ranks as a result of mediocrity and seniority.
All in all, citizens ought to be prepared for what is to come. I have said it before and I will say it again—plainly and boldly—that it is only when senior politicians and their relatives are affected by violent crime that their anger and disgust will turn towards effective legislation and finding the political willpower to manage the Police Service better.