With an increase in robberies in a short space of time as alluded to by ACP of the Tobago Division William Nurse, THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has expressed concern.
Speaking with reporters on Friday, Augustine said a virtual meeting with the Tobago Security Council was carded.
“I’m having the heads of all the security agencies on the island meeting, and this is going to be a regular feature that we would have, so that we would keep abreast not just of the statistics but of the strategies that ought to be used.”
He said the meeting would include Nurse, the heads of Coast Guard (Tobago), the Defence Force (Tobago), Prisons Tobago, fire services, Port security, airport security, and Allan Stewart, head of TEMA (Tobago Emergency Management Agency).
He said the plan is to begin to strategise, as he was not convinced enough was being done "to stem what seems to be a very troubling trend when it comes to robberies." He said he had spoken to the police, who were holding talks with private security companies on the island.
"If you notice," he explained, "the targets have been our credit unions and have been places guarded by private security companies.”
He said there were gaps in protocols and how some credit unions manage security features.
He said he doesn’t want the population to get "too comfortable" with the robberies, and while the police might argue the numbers compareed to 2021 or 2020 might “not be that bad, every single robbery for us in Tobago is bad, as far as I am concerned, because that is not in Tobago’s DNA.”
He said both port and airport security were included in the meeting as there were also gaps in those areas.
“One of the things I’ve asked the technocrats here to do, is to start finding out how much it costs to have vehicular scanners for our ports in Tobago. We all know how cumbersome it is for the police to stoop and search everybody coming off of the port. We as an island have to start thinking about acquiring some vehicular scanners for the port....
"What is clear is that the island’s borders are open, and it is easy for people to transport contraband, inclusive of illegal weapons to Tobago through the port.”
Admitting that while national security is not a fifth-schedule item under the THA Act, he said it is in the island’s best interest to invest in its security. He said he has a team looking at the cost of vehicular scanners at the port.
“If it is something that we can afford, certainly it is something that we would get ourselves as the THA." He said it should not now be possible for a vehicle to drive on or off the port without being scanned, "and that is not always possible do manually by the police.”