By Sue-Ann Wayow
THERE is no spike in the country’s murders for the past ten weeks but generally, the murder rate has been uphill since 2011 with an average of 428 people being killed annually.
This is according to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) public information officer ASP Sheridon Hill.
Speaking at a TTPS press conference on Tuesday, he said the TTPS had no evidence of a spike since former commissioner of police Gary Griffith’s term ended in August.
In a response to a media report, Griffith had said there were 55 murders since his contract expired and that there was a spike in murders.
However, Hill said, “We have no information regarding that upsurge in crime relating to the former commissioner, we have no evidence of that.”
Homicide Bureau Superintendent Rishi Singh presented data from 2011 to 2019.
He said, “For this period, the lowest per year was 352 in 2011 and the highest was in 2019 at 539. There was a general upward trend from 2011 to that peak in 2019.”
Singh also said there was an increase in the third quarter of 2021, from July to October.
“The TTPS observed that the number of murders began trending upwards, for the month of July in 2020, we had 33, in 2021, there were 38. For August 2020, there were 23, in August 2021, there were 35, in September 2020, there were 24, in September 2021, 38 and in October 2020, there were 34 with 58 in 2021,” he said.
Singh added that the TTPS has taken decisive action to deal with the increase.
The superintendent also said police have taken note of several Venezuelans being involved in crime either as victims or perpetrators.
And data is showing organized crime as driving factor being the murder rate.
“The organised crime dynamic traditionally was in fact within the drug and firearm domain, our recent analyses with relation to organised crime we are observing that pockets of individuals see great wealth in the illegal mining sector and what this is doing is causing persons to want to dominate that market niche,” Singh said.
Gary’s response to Hill and Singh
On Wednesday, Griffith posted a response to Hill on his Facebook page saying “The TTPS’ failure to face reality will destroy public confidence in the service.”
Referring to the data presented at the press conference, Griffith said, “Supt Rishi Singh of the Homicide Bureau admitted that there was a sharp increase, saying that in August 2021, there was an increase in murders of 52% over that which occurred in 2020, September 2021 saw a 58% increase and October a whopping 70% increase, over the same period last year.
“This represents an average of over 50% increase in murders over the last 3 months. In stark contrast, there was a 25% decrease in murders in the first six months of 2021, when I led the TTPS, in comparison to our record decreases in 2020. In fact, for the 18 months of 2020 and the first half of 2021, which represents the second half of my contract, there were 200 less murders than the same period before.”
He maintains his statement that for the past ten weeks, there was a spike in murders.