He said that a recent statistical analysis on violent crime communities, done by an expert from the University of Cambridge found a total of 188, “violent crime hot spots,” in Trinidad and Tobago.
Speaking before the Joint Select Committee (Group II) at the J Hamilton Maurice Room, Office of the Parliament, on the need for highly qualified persons with skills to join the police service to fight crime, Williams said, at present, the work that the police do, requires expertise in different areas.
As the police service looked at violent crime communities with an expert in statistical analysis from the University of Cambridge, Williams said, “We were able to identify 188 hot spots of violent crime in Trinidad and Tobago.”
It was the first time, he said, that violent hot spots were identified in TT. He defined a “hot spot” as “a small geographical area of concentration.” Laventille, he said, is a large geographical area, but it is not a hot spot. “It is within Laventille that we can find some of the violent crime hot spots.”
Now that these hot spots have been identified, Williams said, the next phase would be for the police to implement experimental intervention programmes aimed at reducing crimes which could bring key results. He later told the committee that a drop by 36 percent in serious crimes especially murder this year, “did not happen by chance,” but had its genesis in a specific anti-crime plan launched last September.
Williams said that 19 murders in March and 19 in April, were among the lowest recorded since 2007, with an exception. The exception to the numbers dropping to around 15, 16 and 17 for September, October and November of 2011, he said, were as a result of the state of emergency. The September crime plan, Williams said, “is geared toward reducing violent crimes especially murders. The chief focus was on the Port-of-Spain Division where the largest national average of murders were being committed.”
“We had 40 murders last August. By the end of September we had 26. October saw 25, 23 in November and 24 in December,” Williams told the committee. For this year, he said, there were 38 murders in January and 46 in February.
Officers, he said, were then reassigned to key units and Operation Hope was launched. This led to a rapid decline in the murder rate, with 19 murders committed in March and 19 in April.
The approach, he said, was a deliberate move from reactionary to proactive.
Police demanded additional vehicles and used foot patrols in the high crime areas. The top ten police stations which dealt with 42 percent of all serious crimes are Chaguanas, San Fernando, Besson Street, St Joseph, Central Police Station in Port-of-Spain, Arima, St James, Scarborough, Couva and San Juan.
Chaguanas, San Fernando and Besson Street police stations, he said, have consistently been dealing with the highest number of serious crimes and a heavy concentration of resources - manpower and vehicles — have been put into them to ensure policing efforts from a prevention perspective.
Williams said the Police Service has a shortage of 1,430 police officers and adjustments and redistribution have to be made to take control of violent crimes. To address this, the police have embarked on an aggressive recruitment drive to train 700 recruits by the end of this year.
A comprehensive analysis of the complement of the police force, he said, is due to be undertaken over a three-year period. In response to a question from PNM MP Alicia Hospedales on the low level of crime detection, Williams said the manpower shortage has impacted on the investigations.