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2001 ‘most murderous, violent year’

2001 ‘most murderous, violent year’ in TT's history

From: Newsday

A crime economist has described last year as the "most murderous and violent" year in this country's history.

Anslem Richards, of the Policy Research and Development Institute, Tobago House of Assembly, recently presented to Sunday Newsday, a copy of crime research he conducted to support his assertion.

He said statistics showed that it is now customary for criminals to resort to violence in carrying out their illegal deeds.

According to Richards, gone are the days when bandits only robbed their victim. They are now killing them after committing robbery.

In 2001, 151 persons were murdered, an increase of 28 percent as compared to the 118 murders in 2000. For this year, 25 persons have been murdered already, including an American who worked in the oil industry.
Richards' research also showed an increase in all categories of crime where violence was used by the perpetrators.

However, for the same period, non-violent crimes decreased significantly. His study also showed a sharp decrease in reports of narcotics offences.
The offence of wounding/shooting increased by 27.7 percent, from 383 cases in 2000 to 470 cases in 2001.

There were 4,052 robberies in 2000 as compared with 4,249 cases in 2001, which represented a five percent increase within 12 months.
Rape, incest and other sexual offences all increased by 2.7 percent from 516 reported cases in 2000 to 530 in 2001.

"It should be noted that from the economics of crime perspective, violent crimes are primarily crimes of the poor. Therefore factors such as expanding pockets of poverty, the illicit drug trade, an ineffective education system and poor governance are some of the drivers of violence," Richards said.

On the other hand, non-violent crimes decreased between 2000 and 2001.
Richards noted that larceny from dwelling houses recorded an 18.9 percent decline from 385 in 2000 to 312 in 2001.

Burglaries/break-ins decreased by 10.9 percent from 5,625 cases in 2000 to 5,010 cases in 2001. Larceny of vehicles declined by two percent from 3,008 cases in 2000 to 2,949 cases in 2001.

Despite the increase in violent crimes, Richards' study showed an overall decrease by eight percent in serious crimes from 17,008 cases in 2000 to 15,655 cases in 2001.

Richards said his research indicated that a drop in non-violent crimes was attributed to members of society spending a greater deal of money on improving property and personal security by way of security guards and improved securing of homes and businesses via stronger burglar-proofing and alarm installation.

He noted an inverse relationship between the decline in non-violent crimes and the increase in violent crimes.

"A clinical analysis shows that as private citizens make it more difficult, via installation of anti-theft devices, for theives to rob their property, they are being robbed, shot, wounded and/or kidnapped in the streets and other public places," Richards said.

His study also showed a major decline of 60.6 percent in the number of narcotics cases reported within the period, from 1,213 cases on 2000 to a mere 478 cases in 2001.

With regards to the levels of serious crimes in the various police divisions, Richards noted that Northern and Port-of-Spain Divisions continued to record the highest levels of criminal activity with 3,383 and 3,118 cases respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, Eastern and Tobago divisions recorded the lowest cases with 611 and 628 cases respectively. Richards noted that the east/west corridor, which stretches from Arima in the east to Port-of-Spain in the west, remains the hot bed for serious crimes.

Richards said the appointment by National Security Minister Howard Chin Lee, of a crime advisory committee is a welcome development, but was unlikely to to lead to satisfactory results.

Richards called for young minds to be involved in the issue of crime reduction and/or prevention.

"There must be new thinking brought to the table as the traditional approaches have failed us. Crime must be seen as a societal problem and all capable hands should be on deck," Richards said.

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