Commentary: Hinds, Mr Bean and Crime

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By Dr Neil Gosine

FITZGERALD Hinds, the current Minister of National Security, has become a polarising figure in Trinidad and Tobago’s ruling party the People National Movement (PNM). 

Since his appointment on April 19, 2021, Hinds has faced relentless criticism over his handling of the country’s escalating crime rates and his public statements regarding his role and responsibilities with good reason. 

Hinds’ tenure has been marred by increasing violence and crime, with critics arguing that he has failed to provide effective leadership.

The country’s homicide rate remains alarmingly high, with 605 murders reported in 2022 and 576 in 2023. 

In 2024 in Trinidad & Tobago, we have started another violent start to the new year. With him declaring that Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher’s tenure as head of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service so far has been good and therefore her term in office has been extended by one year effective May 15.

Despite her abysmal performance over the last year and the rising murder rate figures, Hinds has maintained that his role does not include drafting anti-crime plans, which he argues would constitute political interference in police operations. 

Fitzgerald Hinds continues to defend his work as national security minister and the prime minister also hasn’t considered it necessary to move him from his post. Hinds has declared in the past that “I know what my responsibilities are.”

This statement has sparked significant backlash from both the public and political opponents, who see it as an abdication of responsibility.

The opposition United National Congress (UNC) has been particularly vocal, especially the Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on calling for Hinds’ resignation and labelling him as the worst national security minister in the country’s history. They argue that the “all of government” approach to crime touted by the ruling PNM has failed under his leadership. Former police commissioner Gary Griffith also criticised Hinds, emphasising the need for a more hands-on approach to tackling crime. 

Griffith has stated publicly: “You cannot appoint a James Bond or a Rambo to work with the Mr Bean and Tommy Joseph of T&T National Security.”

A fitting statement on the way crime is handled by Minister Fitzgerald Hinds. Despite the mounting criticism, the government has stood by Hinds. They contend that the opposition’s attacks are politically motivated and that the UNC is using Hinds as a scapegoat to undermine the administration’s broader efforts. Yet every day we see increased home invasions, increase murders, increase robberies, increase carjacking and overall increase in crime.

Fitzgerald Hinds’ tenure as minister of national security continues to be a contentious issue in Trinidad and Tobago. While he defends his record and the government backs his approach, public dissatisfaction and high crime rates pose ongoing challenges. The debate over his effectiveness underscores the broader struggle that every citizen faces and the PNM Government can’t find and implement effective solutions to the country’s crime problem.

As Trinidad and Tobago grapples with these issues, the spotlight remains firmly on Hinds as well as Commissioner of Police Erla Harewood-Christopher and their ability to navigate the complexities of national security in a nation yearning for peace and safety. Will we ever see real progress with the Mr Bean and Tommy Joseph of T&T? 

Neil Gosine is an insurance executive. He was appointed a temporary Opposition Senator and is also the treasurer of the UNC and a former chairman of the National Petroleum Marketing Company of Trinidad and Tobago. He holds a Doctorate in Business Administration, a Master’s in Business Administration MBA, BSC in Mathematics and a BA in Administrative Studies. The views and comments expressed in this column are not necessarily those of AZP News, a Division of Complete Image Limited.

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