This country is faced with a low crime detection rate which means that 86 percent of perpetrators of homicides walk free. Criminologist and Criminal Psychologist Renee Cummings made this revelation at the Caribbean Security Forum last week at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain.
“There are challenges in coming up with solutions to reduce homicides but what we need to pay close attention to is the efficiency of police tactics, the acceptability of violence and the culture of violence in our society,” Cummings said.
The detection rate for the past ten years has been 19 percent. “The best year we had was in 2006 with detection rates were up to 27 percent and our most challenging year was 2013, with a detection rate of 13 percent.” Cummings explained the significance of homicide rates in that it indicates the state of society, the morality of citizens and the psychopathology of the offender, as indicated through the type of crimes that are committed.
“86 percent of perpetrators get away with murder. Deterrence is not working in TT. The lack of accountability and legitimacy is a primary cause in having a high homicide rate,” Cummings said. The criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent crimes. “There is a lack of urgency on the part of law enforcement, what is done in the first 48 hours of a crime increases or decreases the probability of an arrest occurring,” said Cummings
Her approach to increase the detection rate included having a stronger professional ethic, well-trained investigators and a more victim-centred approach. “We need a comprehensive approach to public awareness and we also need national policy on violence reduction as we do not have a policy that looks at violence and the early exposure of gun violence, youth violence and gender-based violence to name a few,” Cummings said.
Government has a critical role to play. They need to be empowered to design the policies to reduce crime and violence. “Leadership is critical, to the solution because we need leaders who are bold to make the necessary steps.”
Cummings urged for more attention to be placed on improving police investigative and intelligence capabilities along with devoting more resources towards more thorough investigations.
“We need to send a clear signal that perpetrators are under the radar and fix this deficit in knowledge that is affecting law enforcement locally. The citizens of TT deserve a higher standard of life. We can make TT a better place,” Cummings said.