There are gangs in Tobago, but its membership is small.
So said Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles, who described thes gangs as “more related to drugs rather than the violent gangs that permeate the island of Trinidad.”
Speaking at Wednesday’s post Executive Council media briefing at the Administrative Complex in Calder Hall, Charles said:
“What I do know that is there are some small gangs, the numbers would have to be verified but those gangs are more related to drugs rather than the violent gangs that permeates the island of Trinidad. We do have some gang members and my information is that they are small.”
At last Friday’s debate of the Anti-Gang legislation in Parliament, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said there were 24 gangs in Tobago with 190 members.
Responding to this claim, Charles told reporters:
“Crime is an issue and in this jurisdiction, we do not have any Anti-Gang legislation as in some other jurisdictions. You need the law in the first instance, if you are to proffer charges against persons engaged in activities like illegal gang activities. So, of course, he (al Rawi) was making the case in an attempt to persuade the Senate of the need for the legislation.
“What is curious however, is that it was passed in the House and the Senate, comprising members of the Opposition. It is kind of curious that the debate didn’t go the whole distance, but it is part of the thrust to ensure that the legislative infrastructure is there to prosecute offenders of the law.”
Charles also said Tobago has recorded a decrease in crime over the last two months.
“I wish to place on record that for the period January and February, there would have been a decrease in crime over the corresponding period last year. As a matter of fact, the only area in which there would have been a slight increase would have been in the area of break-ins and larceny. So in all other areas, crime was down,” he said.
He also reported that one of the initiatives that was undertaken in collaboration with the Commissioner of Police, was the arrangement for some additional police officers to come to Tobago.
“There are at this time 20 additional police officers from Trinidad stationed in Tobago and part of that crew is stationed at the Old Grange Police Station. I can say to you as well that over the last two months, we would have recorded in Tobago, the seizure or the recovery of at least two firearms and that has been attributed to the additional police strength that is currently operating in Tobago. So that there is an improvement in the whole atmosphere of policing at this time,” Charles said.
He added that the Ministry of National Security has also embarked on a programme, the National Crime Prevention Programme and have selected two areas for the pilot project - Chaguanas and Tobago.
He said a team chaired by Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Chief Secretary, Ancil Dennis, will next week begin sensitisation sessions with key stakeholders.
“The idea is, that at the end of the day a community council will be formed with the view to interact more closely with the community as a preventative measure,” he said.