In his first Budget presentation for the new People’s Partnership Government, Minister of Finance Winston Dookeran announced the implementation of the NSOC. Dookeran said the special unit will focus on “intelligence gathering” through a comprehensive electronic database of all criminal related activities. He said officers on mobile patrols will be able to link with the NSOC and log on to the information network for all relevant data on vehicles and individuals through licence plates and drivers permits.
“This centre is expected to lead to a response time of less than ten minutes to emergency calls in most locations across the country,” Dookeran said. He also announced the implementation of a computerised crime statistics and reporting programme (COMPSTAT), which will record daily all reports of criminal activities, to identify hot spots and assists with the effective deployment of protective services personnel.
Dookeran said Government will move to establish a Victims of Crime Support Programme.
“The victims require so much emotional and psychological help and often have nowhere to turn for on-going support. This initiative will be conducted through the Ministry of the People in conjunction with the Ministry of National Security.”
He also noted a Special Criminal Court will be established to provide swift justice. “The court will treat with firearm, kidnapping and narcotic offences and is meant to relieve the case burden on the Magistrates’ Courts. The construction of the Sangre Grande Magistrates’ Court and the Arima Judicial Complex are key priorities. Progress is being made in acquiring sites for these projects.”
Referring to “much talk, but little action in the past” with regard to the return of police bike patrols, Dookeran said it is the Government’s intention to deploy bicycles to the Police Service for this purpose.
“Too many times the police are station-bound and unable to effectively patrol areas within communities. The introduction of bicycle patrols will go a long way to create a stronger police presence.”
Dookeran also proposed a monthly special duty allowance of $1,000 be paid to the more than 7,000 officers in the Police Service that takes effect from October 1. He said taxes on this allowance will be waived in accordance with Section 124 of the Income Tax Act. This allowance, he said, shall be from transfer of funds from within the Ministry of National Security.
“We have inherited one of the worst periods of crime in our nation’s history. The deepest concern of our people is safety. Creating a safe society is this Government’s highest priority, backed by our full resolve. This is not only reflected in the Budget allocation, but also in recent steps to transform our country’s law enforcement agencies. It is a complex problem dealing with underlying issues of social dispossession, lawlessness and the value of life itself,” Dookeran said.
“To address some of these, we are examining proposals to re-integrate ex-prisoners, deportees and delinquent youth into the fabric of mainstream society. The Government will establish a youth mentoring programme. Grants will be provided to community based organisations which can run successful mentoring programmes for youth, deemed to be at risk, away from crime. We will seek ideas and assistance from successful international mentoring programmes.”