National Security Minister Stuart Young has described this year’s crime statistics as “frightening” but said law enforcement remains strong in their fight.
He was speaking at the Parliament sitting on Wednesday in his contribution to The Bail (Amendment) (No 2) Bill 2019.
The minister said for the period January 1 to November 25 there were 480 murders this year.
Since then, there have been four more murders, pushing the total to 484.
He also raised concern over the spike in crime in four police divisions in the country.
“Out of the 480 murders as of Monday, 86 were unknown, 148 definitely gang related, 60 revenge, 53 drugs. I added the 53, the 60 and the 148 because to me that is all gang related and the criminal elements, 261 out of 480 by that sector,” said Young.
“Another frightening statistic, the total murders, woundings and shootings for the year as of Monday...from the 1st of January to the 25th of November this year, 1,121 — murders, woundings and shootings occurred; 79.4 or 381 of the murders alone were committed with firearms.
“So 80 per cent of the murders committed in Trinidad for the year are through the use of firearms and about 99 per cent through the use of illegal firearms. That is the reality of what we are facing,” said Young.
Young delved into statistics to show that guns and ammunition are the core issues fuelling the murder rate as he questioned why would someone who is in possession of a bomb, grenade, artillery or automatic weapon be allowed bail.
With respect to comparative woundings and shootings by division from January 1 to November 25, Young said in 2018 there were 501 woundings and shootings while in 2019 it went up to 641.
Law enforcement is working “tirelessly” and need the legislation to keep the culprits bearing high-powered arms in jail, he said.
Young also pointed out that the majority of the murders were committed by firearms.
“Out of the 480 murders committed for the year as of Monday, 381 were committed using firearms and 47 with sharp instruments, therefore firearms were used to commit 79.4 per cent of the murders followed by sharp instruments of 9.1 per cent,” he said.
Startling gun statistics
Young also gave the figures for arrests made by the police for the period January 1 to November 25:
• Murder — 59.
• Wounding and
shooting — 184.
• Possession of firearms and ammunition — 1138 persons.
He said it is “startling” and “frightening” that for the year the police have arrested and charged 1,138 people for possession of firearms and ammunition.
The minister expressed concern about the increases in the crime statistics in four divisions — the Port of Spain Division, the Western Division, the Northern Division up and the North Eastern Division.
“I do not think that is a coincidence,” he said.
“This is the reality of what we are facing this is not about ole talk,” he added, saying the data represents the pure facts.
He commended the hard work of the police as he noted that as of November 25 they have successfully removed 735 illegal firearms from the streets.
Last year at the same time it was 897.
He said for the year so far some 10,305 rounds of ammunition were removed from the streets. Last year, around the same time the figure was 15,556 rounds.
“Any sensible persons would know, when you talking over 10,000 rounds, that’s enough to go to a small war with, marry that to the automatic firearms that we’re talking about and this is only what we’ve found and confiscated,” he said.
“This would not include every single shooting now with the gangs, it’s not one or two shots you know, they spray and prey and God forbid it is any of us inside of here or anybody we know, any family member, any constituent, any law-abiding citizen and it is their rights we’ve come here today to protect because nobody in possession of an automatic firearm should be permitted the right to bail,” said Young.