National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds – Grevic Alvarado
MINISTER of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds said on Monday that crime was “a whole-of-society issue” for everyone to grapple with.
He was replying to reporters’ questions at a briefing at Tower C, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, to sign an MoU with the Chinese Government for a new forensic sciences centre.
Asked about the murder rate, he recalled previously saying last year’s 605 murder toll was abhorrent and troubling. “It reflects what is in people’s hearts and minds.”
Newsday asked if the Government ought to try to address people’s hearts and minds.
He listed all that successive governments had done for the citizenry since Independence in 1962 including free education from nursery to tertiary, an ample public health service, and $6 billion in social assistance annually. He said every citizen has had the opportunity to maximise their potential via the investments that governments had made in them. “Trinidad and Tobago has done particularly well in making positive pathways available for all citizens.”
Newsday asked if there was some sort of disconnect, in not all citizens accessing these opportunities.
Hinds replied that ahead of national security, his role was to respond to certain behaviours, many behaviours which had transpired before the authorities became aware of them. He said the Government had gathered Caricom leaders last April in a symposium to debate crime as a public health issue.
“That has revealed to us that this problem and the disconnect you are talking about has to do with every aspect of the human being, every aspect of his or her life.
“That has to do with his relations in the family, his parents, adults in the community, the church, the school, the mandir…You just name it.
“It’s a really, genuinely whole of society issue for all of us to grapple with and national security is grappling with it.”
Hinds recalled many programmes for youngsters under the Ministry of Youth Development and National Service.
He related a success story he had recently heard of an at-risk youngster mentored by soldiers on the Milat programme.
“This young man was involved in all manners of wrong in his community at the age of 14 or 15.
“They took him into the Milat programme and within two years he was as smart and as shaped up and as disciplined as you could have – chin up, shoulders square to the front, attiring himself differently.” Hinds trumpeted that the youngsters got six CSEC passes, namely four grade one and two grade two passes.
“Just an example of what we are doing for the young people to treat with the disconnect in this whole of societal, whole of region, whole of world response to this situation.” A reporter noted a slight dip in homicides to 550 from 582 this time last year.
Sen Supt Rishi Singh said the numbers may give testimony to the fact that some police strategies bearing fruit.
“But the fact we still have those numbers tells us we have some work to do, which we continue to co-ordinate.”