27% decrease in murders for 2024

Crime Scene Investigators collect evidence on the west bound lane of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway in the
vicinity of the St Augustine Girls High School, where three men were killed in December, 2023. FILE PHOTO
Crime Scene Investigators collect evidence on the west bound lane of the Churchill Roosevelt Highway in the vicinity of the St Augustine Girls High School, where three men were killed in December, 2023. FILE PHOTO

From January 1 up to Wednesday afternoon, there has been a 27 per cent decrease in murders, a 37 per cent decrease in violent crimes, and a 48 per cent decrease in other serious reported crimes in the Southern Division for the comparative period last year.

Divisional Commander acting Snr Supt Brian Soodeen gave the breakdown on Wednesday afternoon at the Parliament’s National Security Joint Select Committee (JSC).

Soodeen said, however, the division has an issue with larceny of motor vehicles, which increased from 16 in 2023 to 45 in 2024 for the same period.

“However, there are systems in place to deal with this, and we are also seeing a downward trend. There was an 18 per cent detection rate in murders, and out of the 11 murders, two were solved,” Soodeen said.

The detection rate for violent crimes stood at 15 per cent.

There was an 18 per cent decrease in the detection rate of guns seized. Soodeen said the reason for that was because there was a catchment of guns seized for the same period last year.

Soodeen was among four divisional commanders at the inquiry.

The others were Snr Supt Ryan Khan of the Eastern Division, Snr Supt Richard Smith of the North Central Division Divisional, and acting Snr Supt Miguel Montrichard of the Northern Division (North).

Committee member Dr Roodal Moonilal asked about the divisions’ targets and to what extent they were met. Soodeen replied that south had a shortage of constables, but the officers were “getting by.”

The JSC was chaired by Port of Spain South MP Keith Scotland, with Dr Paul Richards as vice-chairman. The inquiry was to gain an understanding of the anti-crime strategies implemented and being implemented to address criminal activity in Trinidad and Tobago.

Smith told the committee while his division had adequate strength, it was short of two ASPs, two inspectors, and two sergeants.

“We are making do with what we have at this time,” Smith said. He said the North Central Division closed at a 17 per cent detection rate last year.

“As it stands this year, we are seeing some improvement. We have a reduction in serious crime on a whole up to this time in March. Our detection rate is now 25 per cent and we are ranking fourth in the country,” Smith said.

The Eastern Division has the highest detection rate, with the Tobago Division in second and South Western Division in third.

“We have a 19 per cent reduction in murders. Shootings and woundings are up, and that is mainly because we have violent exchanges where officers are, in fact, victims of shootings, so they accounted for some of the shooting victims in these matters,” Smith said.

Smith added that larceny of motor vehicles, robberies, general larcenies, break-ins and burglaries are prevalent, and he recently formed a team to deal with these crimes. The Eastern Division closed in 2023 with a 63 per cent detection rate.

The head of the division said there was a 23 per cent reduction in murder, a 40 per cent reduction in sexual offences, an 18 per cent reduction in robberies, a 34 per cent in larcenies, and five per cent in fraud.

The division also saw a 25 per cent reduction in fatal road traffic accidents. But there was a 22 per cent increase in gun-related offences.

Khan added, “Our target reduction for murder was 20 per cent, so we did meet the target. We have a 43 per cent detection rate of violent crimes.”

Khan said from January 1 this year, the division had a reduction in murders of 20 per cent, a 33 per cent reduction in sexual offences, a 17 per cent reduction in woundings and shootings, and a 12 per cent reduction in robberies.

There was also an 80 per cent reduction in larceny (general) and larceny (dwelling house) by 40 per cent.

“Fraud offences have a 60 per cent reduction, break-in offences had a 40 per cent reduction, other serious crimes had a 44 per cent reduction. The total reduction in serious crimes moved from 234 to 125, which was a 47 per cent reduction,” Khan said.

Moonilal asked about an established divisional strength and the actual strengths.

Khan replied that the Eastern Division has a workforce shortage, and officers are faced with an increased workload as the population is drastically increasing, particularly in the squatting areas. Khan added that officers are under pressure with fewer resources.

In the Northern Division, Montrichard said it had adequate strength.

He added that the division was on a downward trend concerning serious crimes. “We are on a downward trend; that is where we want to be.

However, we still have a challenge with robbery, especially in the Arima district. We are actively looking into ways to stymie that effort,” he said.


"27% decrease in murders for 2024"

More in this section