NATIONAL Security Minister Edmund Dillon has said he has no seer ball to tell him the murder rate will go down this year.
He was responding to a question in Parliament on Friday from Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial on new national security measures to address the high murder rate which is more than 100 in under three months.
Dillon said the murder rate is a cause of concern for all but it did not happen overnight and would not be turned around overnight. He reported the Police Service has taken a coordinated and multifaceted approach and the ministry was working with the Judiciary, defence force, prison service and the customs and excise division. He said measures by the police include increased focus on violent criminal offenders, focus on hotspots, patrols with a focus of firearm violence, and greater use of technology such as the use of drones and closed circuit television.
Dillon also reported he met with the ambassadors of Mexico and Colombia on security issues.
“We can learn from them as they learn from us.”
Ramdial then asked if he predicted there would be a lower murder rate this year.
Dillon responded: “One cannot predict in terms of murder rate and so on. Because there are so many factors that contribute to murder in Trinidad, any jurisdiction in the world. You can be sitting down right here and one cannot understand what is happening between a husband and a wife or some neighbour. We cannot predict that. I don’t know if you have a seer ball or something like that. I do not have that.”
Ramdial asked if he was not confident in his own crime fighting strategies. Dillon shot back, “You had a chance to to deal with it,” referring to the former People’s Partnership administration. He said there has been a reduction in serious crimes and Government was tackling the murder rate.
“I hope the Opposition will support us in the fight for crime.”
Dillon was also asked about actions taken to ensure autopsies were done in the timely manner at the Forensic Sciences Centre, St James and about the workload of the pathologists. He said there are four contract positions for pathologists but with the resignation of Dr Valery Alexandrov there were only two filled positions. He reported Dr Hughvon Des Vignes was handling autopsies in Trinidad and Dr Eslyn McDonald-Burris in Tobago and would assist in Trinidad if necessary.
He said in December 2017, the ministry advertised for the position of pathologist but received one application and that had to be denied because the applicant had not completed their period of study. He reported they are working with the United Nations Development Programme to source additional pathologists. He also reported a shortage in mortuary attendants and three were engaged in January on a short term basis.
On the workload, he reported the ministry had commenced discussions with the Health Ministry for non-pathology cases to sent to the hospitals as before.
Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan asked if Dillon was satisfied with one person doing four autopsies to provide a quality of work that could be used as evidence in court. Dillon in response reiterated the efforts to reduce the workload.