Despite being snubbed by the Prime Minister and the TT Government by not being invited to the symposium on crime as a public health issue at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, the Confederation of Regional Business Chambers agreed with Dr Rowley, that crime is a public health issue.
“Crime is a public health issue, shares common causes with ill health, particularly poverty, and fear of violent crime is itself a major cause of anxiety accompanied with existential mental and emotional health problems for citizens,” said Co-ordinator for the Confederation, Jaishma Leladharsingh.
“The Confederation agrees with Prime Minister Rowley that a substantial amount of Social work and interventions has to be done with Families, High Risk neighbourhoods and schools. In fact, the school yards have now become the gayelle of violence and bitter confrontation.”
He said crime has serious effects on communities including inflicting fear among citizens, an increase in insurance premiums, rise in the price of properties making it difficult for home-owners to sell, closures of businesses and a reluctance of new businesses to come into that area.
“Further to this, the continuous changing of Ministers of National Security in the past should bring an understanding to past and present governments that the problem is becoming highly complicated, deeply entrenched and rapidly spreading at an accelerating pace,” he said. “In addition, our society has witnessed how our law enforcement officers and other arms of the protective services have compromised themselves by way of being involved in criminal activities. This is very unfortunate.”
He said that it was necessary for government to increase budgetary allocations for national security, but it is necessary to ensure that money is used for better police vehicles, manpower equipment and weapons for the police.
“In not fully addressed, and if crime levels rise, there will be less money for other services such as education and healthcare. Crime also costs individuals through higher prices in shops for goods and services. If businesses are losing money to crime they pass this cost on to customers by increasing prices.”
The Confederation called for government to uncover root causes of crime through a regional study, assess risks and construct proper risk management systems and seek out preventative strategies for the smuggling of illegal guns, illicit drugs, money laundering, cybercrime, gang activity and human trafficking.
“The Confederation of Regional Business Chambers notes that it is absolutely critical for the government to resort to measures to restore business confidence, and not to resort to negative and insensitive statements which will create more nervousness and uncertainty than optimism,” Leladharsingh said.
The Confederation of Regional Business chambers consists of twelve Business Chambers under one umbrella and has a complete membership in excess of three thousand, five hundred members.
The confederation was not invited to the conference.