Over the next few weeks, there will be an abundance of campaign rhetoric offered to the public. Bold, sometimes incredible solutions to the problems of the nation will be offered up as solemn promises.
The political reality is that few of those manifesto items ever evolve into reality, and in some cases at least, TT remains the poorer for such lapses in implementation.
The UNC’s idea of mixing “hard” and “soft” initiatives in its proposal to manage crime is not new. Regrettably, though, the last time that party tried to invest in marginalised youth, it ended up being the expensive and humiliating disaster that was LifeSport.
The problems of crime will not be solved by buying hardware for the police or flinging cash at crime hotspots in the guise of community assistance.
Responding to the steady rise in crime demands a unified effort that embraces all parliamentarians and acknowledges the parallel economy that deprivation, education shortfalls and other community level problems have created.
To do that, civil society needs to go deep into troubled communities with solutions that harmonise with the needs of our most desperate citizens.
The dismissive response by National Security Minister Stuart Young to the anti-crime proposals of the UNC isn’t what the public hopes to hear from the minister responsible for the nation’s security.
While the UNC leader can make promises divorced from the current reality of governance, some of the suggestions offered by Mrs Persad-Bissessar demanded more than the off-the-cuff dismissal that’s become the norm in campaign politics.
As tough as the the Commissioner of Police wants to get on crime, solutions will not follow the arc of a five-year election cycle and demand long-term, sustained planning and execution.
They must exist above politics, with the buy-in of major parties, in the national interest.
Ill-considered, politically motivated efforts at buying peace through problematic social programmes have clearly failed.
Alternative for turning hotspots into war zones tenuously policed by armed and armoured officers are unsustainable and will become a social irritant that won’t deliver long-term results.
Combativeness over the most crucial issue facing the nation doesn’t help anyone.
Our politicians, while giving lip service to anti-crime measures, haven’t embraced the kind of sustainable social intervention initiatives that might result in a real-world change in crime economies.
A comprehensive national crime plan shouldn’t be a political football.
Newsday encourages both major parties, independents contesting the election and NGOs operating in the sector to offer comprehensive, informed crime plans to the public in the interests of national development as part of the campaign process.
Potential representatives debating the merits of their approaches to crime prevention and positive social engagement may move such plans from manifesto dreams to implemented realities.