THERE is no “magic bullet” to solve crime in Trinidad and Tobago. Removing National Security Minister Stuart Young is not the answer and neither is a state of emergency.
These were some of the views shared by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in an interview with TV6’s Elizabeth Williams, at the Prime Minister’s residence in Tobago last week.
Rowley said some of the factors fuelling crime included the breakdown of the family unit, particularly in Afro-Trinidadian homes, the lure of easy money and family members turning a blind eye to criminal activities of other people in their homes.
The Prime Minister appealed to citizens—especially young men—to work hard and honestly, and to families to play a pivotal role in the development of youth.
Rowley said T&T was a violent society, but this was not new.
“That level of violence flares up every so often, and this is one of those periods. What we are experiencing now is an inability to refrain that violence at every level, among our school children, at the homes between spouses, in the streets between persons who are actually strangers. There is just too much violence in the country,” said the Prime Minister.
He said there was a need for a national conversation on the violence.
Rowley said there were people who turned to violence to get what they wanted and used weapons to instil fear and perpetuate violence.
He said what was worse was there were family members who were aware but they “say nothing and do nothing”.
“I am speaking to the national community, especially at the level of the family—do not encourage your family members to take that road of violence as a way of life,” said Rowley.
He said as a society, citizens needed to come together and focus on the good.
“I want to appeal to the young men to not spend so much time liming...look at where work can be done, where contributions can be made and where opportunities exist,” he said.
The Prime Minister said “sweating is good”, and when a person works honestly for a day’s return then criminal conduct recedes.
“I want to tell our young people there is something called ambition...set yourself a target to be better and do something that will give you the opportunity to have a better quality of life,” he said, adding people can look to skills training.
Family unit fracture
Rowley said improving the crime situation will not come overnight and Government and law enforcement were doing their part.
He said one of the issues was the fracture in family units of Afro-Trinidadians.
He recalled when he was housing minister, he saw a large number of single women applying to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) for State housing.
The Prime Minister said the absence of the father from the equation could not be a good thing, and this was also a national conversation to be had.
“You cannot be impregnating women and talking about child mother and leaving them to the State to house the child mother and raise your children,” he said.
These children grew up without the support they needed, he said.
He said the Rasta City and other gangs had become a thing in society where young people went to them looking for acceptance and appreciation.
He said many of these gang members were not even Muslims and did not know anything about Islam or Rastafarian culture.
Rowley said they just wanted a “label” and to be in a group.