THE PRIME Minister said the Government is concerned if gang leaders are receiving contracts from the State.
He was responding to statements by Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith blaming the State for giving contracts to gang leaders and a Special Branch report which named seven reputed gang leaders who reportedly benefitted from multi-million dollar state contracts from both the Diego Martin Regional Corporation and the Port-of-Spain City Corporation. Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein has promised an audit into the situation.
Dr Rowley was asked about the issue yesterday at the post-Cabinet media conference at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain.
He replied: "If there are gang leaders who are known as such and persons in gangs we took a long time in the Parliament and we took two shots to pass anti-gang legislation, the purpose of which is to allow the police upon being satisfied that these situations exist and these people are engaged in criminal conduct of that nature that the police will charge them and have them be so labelled and that is what we expect."
On Griffith's statements that gangsters continue to receive state contracts Rowley said the Government is concerned if that is happening.
"We are working with the police as a Government to give them all the resources and we expect that if these facts are known that they should be charged. And not be charged because you getting a contract but charged for being involved in gang activity. Because understand something–under this Government we have made gang activity a criminal act. If you are engaged as a gang leader, if you are engaged as a member of a gang, if you attempt to recruit people to a gang these are now serious criminal charges. That wasn't always so; it is so now."
He said the police had that tool and if information existed where someone could be labelled a gang leader then the person was facing "the jeopardy and the peril" of that law.
"So we are not going to getting into any other thing."
He said Government expects the police would be gathering that evidence though it is difficult and it takes time to gather evidence.
"But the law is there is to prosecute such persons. There is no shortcut."