UNITED National Congress Member of Parliament for Naparima, Rodney Charles, has slammed the Minister of National Security Stuart Young for the escalating crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago, claiming that he is not up to the task.
In a media release on Sunday, MP Charles responded to earlier statements made by Young, which incidentally preceded his replacement as the minister of communications. Former Port-of-Spain MP, and Senator Donna Cox will assume the portfolio today.
Charles said he was nonplussed by the performance of Young in the media conference, which he said only confirmed once again why the PNM government is out of its depth and refuses to set quantifiable performance targets to effectively curb crime.
“Minister Young is not up to the task of reducing crime or providing for the safety of citizens,” Charles declared.
Further, the outspoken opposition parliamentarian criticized Young for what he described as lacking the experience, a track record and a crime-fighting vision, or qualifications for the job.
“In addition, he is occupied with too many ministerial responsibilities, making him ineffective in this important crime reduction portfolio. He is no Gary Sobers,” stated Charles.
He was referring to the comparison made by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to the former West Indies cricketer regarded as the greatest allrounder to have played the game, in support of Young recently.
Clearly unimpressed, Charles said Young’s utterances were old talk, empty promises, and rhetoric.
“We have heard it ad nauseam. Even as our crime detection rate remains abysmally low, high-powered guns appear to be readily available to criminals, the judicial system operates at a snail’s pace, criminals operate with seeming impunity, and human trafficking continues unabated,” he said.
“How many times have we heard that the government will leave no stone unturned to deal with crime? Still we continue to live in fear of criminals.
“How often have we heard, as the attorney-general (Faris Al-Wari) forcefully stated in Parliament, that they have all the information on gangs and all they need is time and the passage of legislation to activate this information? Yet gang warfare continues in broad daylight on our streets.
“How often have we heard that citizens must co-operate with the police even as state witnesses are killed?
“How often have we been told that a suite of legislation will deal with crime? This, even as our jails are filled to capacity and this government provides contracts and therefore funding to alleged gang leaders.
“Our Director of Public Prosecutions office is over 50 per cent understaffed, the Forensics Science Centre is unaccredited and operates significantly sub-optimally,” said MP Charles.
He called on the government, and Minister Young to stop funding alleged gang leaders with state contracts, to fully staff the Forensics Science Centre and the office of the DPP, to fill vacancies in the judiciary so that trials can be completed, remove the cloud hanging around the Chief Justice, bring back community policing, and to set quantifiable performance targets for all law enforcement officers.
Only then he said will progress be made in removing the scourge of criminal activities.