Charles slams Government for crime, school violence

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Rodney Charles –

“THE People’s National Movement (PNM) does not care about Black people,” said Princes Town MP Rodney Charles and called for much more intervention to address the current social ills.

At the United National Congress (UNC) media conference on Sunday, several concerns related to crime and the state of the education system, foreign policy, and spying technology were raised.

He said the current challenges had an “osmosis effect” on society and pointed to an increase in crime and school fights.

His comments were in direct response to the Prime Minister’s statement on Thursday about the increase in violent crimes and that he was “very concerned” about the number of school violence incidents in the past week.

Dr Rowley urged people to seek the necessary help to address their issues at the relevant institutions available to them, and for parents and guardians to join in the fight against school violence since the Government had no intention of re-introducing corporal punishment.

Charles said the upsurge of school violence and crime were directly related to a lack of extra-curricular programmes in schools and opportunities for citizens to improve their standard of living.

“We are not a violent society, per se, but I think that the institutions that are supposed to work have collapsed. What we have witnessed since the PNM came into power is a breakdown of all the systems that worked to help us.

“Let me state it openly, the PNM does not like Black people, they care about everybody else, and it hurts because the Black people support the PNM, and the PNM has a responsibility to care for them.”

Charles said, in the colonial days, there were meals provided to poor children, clubs – such as scouts and 4H– and institutions that dealt with the poor. He said that had been dissolved and society had been left on its own.

He claimed those programmes had all been taken away by the PNM and the population was left to suffer in a society had been turned into a battleground where it has become “jungle warfare and survival of strongest.”

“Look in the prisons,” Charles said, “Look in the schools at the fighting and a stark reality is that the Government does not (care). And I urge the Government, because someone said the solution to TT’s problems lies in certain areas, spend the time. You have the Selwyn Ryan report and reports that were done about crime. Implement them for God’s sake. You cannot take people for fools all the time.

“The comments from Guyana’s Vice President Bharat Jagdeo that our country is falling apart (is true), let us face reality friends. Our schools have become pipelines to directing their graduates to an underwhelming future of unemployment, underemployment, prison or gangs and if they are female its spousal abuse.”

He called for a restructuring in the allocation of resources in the Ministry to National Security to enhance programmes of rehabilitation, intervention strategies and policies to reduce crime and school violence.

Using Toronto as an example, Charles said that country had less police for a population that was twice the size of TT because of their crime-prevention policy and focus.

“IN TT, over 85 per cent of resources go toward crime suppression while a mere five per cent is allocated to crime prevention and five per cent to crime rehabilitation.

“Why do we spend over $280 million on the SSA (strategic services agency) a crime suppression, a spying agency and only $4 million on cadets which is a crime prevention tool,” he said.

Charles said there were not enough incentives to attract men and women to chase careers in the national protective services which could foster change and reduce violence in TT.

The UNC calls on the Government to increase the allocation for crime prevention and crime rehabilitation and implement cadet programme in schools in high-risk areas. It also wants equity for students entering the school system from pre-school stage, an increase in the school-feeding programme and a re-introduction of extra-curricular activities, religious education, sports and sports competitions.

Charles said, “We cannot be throwing good money into failed programmes.”