Undertakers remove a body

Flashback: Undertakers remove a body after an accident in Charlieville, in the vicinity of Jerningham Junction, on March 16, 2021. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

The murder toll in 2021 increased when compared to 2020, with last year closing with 448 homicides.

But overall, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) says there was an almost negligible one-per cent increase in serious crimes in 2021.

As of 9 a.m. on December 31, the TTPS had reported a total of 10,644 serious crimes.

This amounted to 106 more reports than at the end of 2020, when 10,538 such reports were made.

The increases came in reports of murders, shootings, sexual offences, kidnappings, larceny of people, fraud and reports of serious indecency.

However, TTPS data noted decreases in other areas, such as kidnappings for ransom, burglaries, robberies, larceny of motor vehicles and larceny of dwelling houses.

In 2021, 448 murders were ­reported.

The last was the killing of a 21-year-old man in Arima on December 31.

This was a 12.3-per cent increase, with 49 more killings, as the toll stood at 399 at the end of 2020.

Woundings and shootings also increased.

There were 648 such reports in 2021, compared to 525 reports in 2020.

Speaking with the Sunday Express, acting Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob noted that while these figures may seem alarming on the surface, qualitative analysis has to be considered.

“At present, yes, we have an increase in murders. Now we know that the crime of murder is the main barometer that many tend to judge performance over. But we have had significant reductions in other crimes. However, because we have the uptick in murders, citizens tend to generalise all crime, and say crime is on the rise, when that is not necessarily the case.

“There have been significant reductions in other fields, such as larcenies and robberies. But even with these reductions, we need to ensure we don’t just look at raw data. You can’t just look at statistics from year to year without analysing what would have led to these numbers. That approach can interfere seriously with the decision-making processes. And this is why, for me, I like to do trend analyses,” Jacob said.

He said if one took a statistical approach over the last ten years, and not only compared year to year, the data would show that the average over this period was 440 murders a year.

“I’m not saying this to defend this year’s numbers. Or try to alter any perceptions on last year’s numbers. I’m saying this because it is clear to us in the TTPS, and I want to indicate to the public, that we have a problem. And even if we have a reduction in 2022 which we will be aiming for, the problem remains. We need to treat with the issues socially first, otherwise the overall average will remain the same, if not get worse,” Jacob said.

Lowest number of fatal road

accidents since 1957

This country also saw the lowest number of road deaths in recent history.

Last year ended with 76 road fatalities.

The comparative toll in 2020 was 96.

The Sunday Express was told that 2021 saw the lowest number of road fatalities recorded since 1957.

Road Safety Officer Sgt Brent Batson noted this was a “signifi­cant milestone” not just for the TTPS, but for the country.

“It showcases what can be done when there is operational consistency between traffic law enforcement agencies such as the TTPS, Licensing and traffic wardens, combined with key legislation provided for by the State through the Ministry of Works and Transport, and collaboration with stakeholders such as Arrive Alive on the educational front,” Batson said.

He noted that “relentless” anti-speed and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) operations by the Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch, and Divisional Traffic Sections, together with the introduction of the UTURN digital traffic enforcement management as well as the Driver Demerit Point System, have shown success in changing the driving culture of the country to one that’s more responsible and accountable.

“We as a country have made a collective decision that unsafe, selfish and reckless driving will no longer be tolerated, and we should all continue to aspire to become safer and responsible road users—be it as a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist.

“The TTPS will continue its efforts in 2022 towards achieving the ultimate goal of zero road traffic deaths in Trinidad and Tobago,” Batson said.

Sexual offences

Reports of rapes, incest and other sexual offences increased last year—with 1,104 such reports at the close of 2021.

This amounted to 443 more reports than in 2020, a 67-per cent increase.

Similarly, reports of serious indecency went up. There were 24 reports at the close of 2021, compared to 19 reports at the close of the previous year.

Kidnappings also increased.

Kidnapping is legally defined in T&T as the removal of a person from one area, and forcing them to go to another without their consent.

These reports went from 85 in 2020 to 89 in 2021.

This was different from the offence of kidnapping for ransom.

In 2021 these reports dropped by 50 per cent, with three reports compared to six in 2020.

Burglaries

Reports of robberies and larcenies decreased in 2021.

Burglaries of homes and businesses went down from 1,736 in 2020 to 1,468 in 2021.

This was a decrease of 15 per cent.

Similarly, robberies of people went down by a similar percentage, with 281 fewer reports. In 2021, T&T recorded 1,801 such reports, as compared to 2,082 in 2020.

Larceny of motor vehicles also went down, with 395 ­reports: 153 fewer reports than in 2020—a 27.9-per cent decrease, police data showed.

Larcenies of dwelling houses also went down by 17 reports.

In 2021, T&T recorded 145 larcenies of homes, when compared to 162 similar reports the previous year.

But there was a slight increase in larceny of the person. In 2021, T&T saw 1,814 reports of this offence. There were 195 more reports than that in 2020—a 10.7-per cent increase.

In 2021, the TTPS saw 928 people held for firearms and ammunition. This was a slight decrease of eight per cent from the previous year, where 1,009 people were held.

An estimated 526 people were held for fraud offences last year. This is an increase of 4.6 per cent from the previous year, where 503 such reports were made.

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