SINCE the passage of the Anti-Gang Act in 2018 which gives the police extra powers against criminal gangs, the number of gang members in TT has fallen by more than half, according to figures from Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
He piloted the Anti-Gang Bill 2020 to renew the life of the 2018 Act for another 30 months, in the House of Representatives on Friday.
Al-Rawi cited data from the TT Police Service (TTPS) for 2018 to 2020.
“What I can tell you today, according to information from the TTPS, is that number has dropped by 38 per cent down from 211 to 129 gangs.
Likewise, he said the number of reputed gang members had fallen by 57 per cent during that period from 2,400 to 1,014 people.
He hailed the yeoman service of the police.
“In 2018 they were able to have 22 gang-related murders solved, with 28 arrests. In 2019, 13 gang-related murders solved, with ten arrests. In 2018, five gang-related murders were solved with 13 arrests.
“Due to consistent targeting and pressure, gang activity has gone on the downward stroke.”
Al-Rawi said a key plank of the act was letting the police detain a suspect for 72 hours, which a judicial officer could then extend for up to 14 days.
The AG said he was in a deep consultation with the likes of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on more legislation including the bugging of prisons where gang activity exists.
Al-Rawi said a past version of anti-gang legislation was applied in 2011 during the State of Emergency (SoE.)
Of 463 people arrested, 100 matters are still now before the courts. His Government has reduced crime without a SoE, he said.
Al-Rawi said he agreed with Police Commissioner Gary Griffith’s view that the bill did not need a sunset clause which limits it for the next 30 months.
He read out the long title of 2018 Act that had said a rapid growth in criminal gang activity had infringed on people’s rights and freedoms under the Constitution. He read out that it is every person’s right to be protected from “fear, intimidation and physical harm” caused by the criminal activity of violent gangs, even as gang activity “presents a danger to public order and safety and to economic stability, and has the potential to inflict social damage.”