Rowley: T&T a Criminal Playground

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Caption: Waterwheel at Speyside,Tobago. AZP News/Prior Beharry

By Prior Beharry

PIARCO — As Tobago recorded its tenth homicide of the year on Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley voiced serious concerns about the growing criminal activities on the island, likening the situation to criminals treating the nation as their “playground”.

During a media briefing at Piarco International Airport following his return from a 12-day trip to Ghana and India, Rowley responded to questions from reporters about the crime situtation plaguing Trinidad and Tobago. He said that the criminal elements are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to strike.

Dr Rowley said, “What we are concerned about is the fact that the criminals are not confined to any one part of the country.”

He said, “They see the nation as their playground and they look for opportunities to conduct their nefarious activities.”

Rowley acknowledged the role of the Ministry of National Security in ensuring the protection and security of citizens on both islands. Addressing the recent call by Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine for the establishment of a THA police force, Dr Rowley said there was the need for the best possible arrangement to secure the population amid rampant criminal conduct.

He said, “What we have to ensure is that Trinidad and Tobago gets the best arrangement for securing its population in response to rampant criminal conduct by a growing number of persons in the society.”

Dr Rowley said he hoped Tobago would remain more secure due to its small community and semi-isolation.

He said, “I am a little disappointed to see that Tobago is becoming like the rest of the nation.”

Dr Rowley said, “But the criminals have freedom of movement, freedom of association and they look for opportunities in Tobago, and unfortunately, some of the negatives that are happening here in Trinidad are now happening in Tobago.”

He called on the police, security services, and the THA to collaborate in combating crime.

Dr Rowley said, “We will discharge that responsibility and we are prepared to work with any and all citizens, agencies, and entities to ensure that the criminals do not prevail and continue to terrorise us indefinitely.”

Last week, Augustine proposed that a THA police force be a major component of the Department of Public Safety, which they are moving to establish.

He said this force would work alongside the police to address Tobago’s growing crime situation. Additionally, efforts are underway to re-establish the Tobago Community Safety Programme to enhance collaboration between communities, the police, and the THA in the fight against crime.

The announcement on May 17 came in response to the ten murders recorded in Tobago so far in 2024, including the recent shooting of Plymouth resident Anthony “Seeba” Maynard, 42, and the earlier killing of Nikesha Sandy while on her way to work.

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