T&T: 22 homicides for 2017

Trinidad Express:-ZERO.

That’s the detection rate in connection with the 22 homicides in Trinidad and Tobago for 2017 up to last night.

The killings have been committed across the country with the majority in the Northern Police Division.

National Security Minister Edmund Dillon was asked about the crime statistics on Sunday during a function in La Brea.

He said: “I do not concentrate on statistics. There is qualitative versus quantitative. I prefer to look at the qualitative aspect which is the mind, getting rid of the fear of crime.

“This means doing certain things to alleviate fear in people’s minds and that is where my emphasis is, in terms of creating more deterrence, more intelligence gathered, more detection.

“Those are the things I concentrate on to keep them on the radar. We know of course murder is the barometer by which we are measured so murder is our main concentration effort.”

Dillon saidhe was “saddened” by the killing of teenage schoolgirl Rachael Ramkissoon.

“The Commissioner of Police and I have discussed the issue and we are going to put everything in our power to ensure that crime, not only this one, but all other criminal activities be met with the full force and full brunt of the law,” he said.

Asked yesterday about the homicide detection rate ASP Michael Pierre, public information officer for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), said: “I am not at my desk for today so I cannot make any statement regarding the statistics at the moment. Concerning otherwise (zero detection rate) I will also have to wait on that.”

No one has been held up to yesterday.

According to criminologist and criminal psychologist Renée Cummings: “There’s no urgency when it comes to solving crime. What is done in the first 48-hours either increases or decreases the probability of an arrest.”

No urgency

Cummings added: “In the homicide investigation, there’s a continuum of competence in performing specific routine tasks that will influence the effectiveness of an investigation.

“There seems to be some major challenges across the continuum specifically, in areas such as crime-scene response, crime-scene management, investigative techniques, case management, and follow-up.

“To reduce homicides and increase the solvency rate, many things are required: a more victim-centred approach to investigations; a stronger professional ethic; well-trained investigators; a greater effort by police to build public trust and public confidence and reduce high level of reticence in the national community; a greater willingness to think outside of the box; and a more creative use of national security resources.”

Cummings, who also specialises in criminal profiling, said traditional investigative techniques are no longer effective.

“The crime scene represents the psychopathology of the offender. The police need additional analytic support.

“Criminologists, criminal psychologists, forensic psychologists must be assigned directly to the homicide department to assist with behavioural analysis of offenders, crime-scene reconstruction, psychological autopsies, victimology and risk assessment reports, suspect prioritisation, interview strategies; time lines that determine the point at which the offender acquired the victim and so much more.”

Cummings, who continues to advocate for an evidence-based approach to homicide reduction and empirically designed interventions, added that “there seems to be an analytic and systemic deficiency in understanding homicide and a lack of an integrated and interdisciplinary approach to understanding the complex dynamics of criminal behaviour, the criminal mind, and what may have spawned or cultivated an aberrant or criminal lifestyle”.

She intimated: “That lack of knowledge continues to limit and undermine the responses being presented at a national level.”

Cummings added: “There seems to be a lack of scientific management of the homicide department as well as a lack of direction, accountability and a method to assess performance.”

She was particularly empathetic to homicide investigators.

“The frequency of homicides and heavy case loads could be presenting a challenge.

“Burnout, stress, frustration, lack of support, lack of motivation, lack of leadership and limited resources could impact their effectiveness and efficiency and contribute to keeping the detection rate abysmally low.”

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