The Trinidad Guardian / “Garrison” style behaviour is developing in T&T where people are resisting the police and school children are behaving in a way resembling criminality, says Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi
The AG spoke about the situation in the Senate yesterday piloting the Anti-Gang Bill. This was passed recently in the House of Representatives . The bill aims to disrupt gang activity.
Al-Rawi said garrison style behaviour was seen last October in Beetham Gardens. This was when residents openly protested police attempts to arrest two community members.
The phenomenon has also occurred in Jamaica where some areas controlled by criminal elements seek to defend them against security forces. Well known incidents of this occurred in 2010 when Jamaican security forces attempted to arrest Jamaican drug lord and Shower Posse leader Christopher “Dudus” Coke. It lead to a state of emergency and siege of Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens which Coke controlled.
Al -Rawi said: “The fact is statistically, T&T is wrestling with with a gang culture. We’re watching garrison type behaviour across T&T-people emboldened to go into the streets and resist the police.”
“But it’s gone further-we’re watching school children behave a particular way resembling a form of criminality,”
“In my day at Presentation College, San Fernando, you got into trouble if your socks were the wrong colour, if your handkerchief wasn’t in your pocket and you didn’t have a red ink pen (as I still do), from the kind of upbringing….with discipline and work!”
Al-Rawi noted acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams’ 2014 affidavit statement that gang culture had increased in the last 15 years, particularly attracting disenfranchised youth from at-risk areas who lacked a sense of belonging.
Williams also said police surveillance confirmed alliances were being worked out among gang factions to facilitate drugs and arms trafficking.
It was further noted that Port-of-Spain and Northern divisions had the biggest increases in gang activity in 2014. But by 2016, Southern had the largest increase.
Al-Rawi said 92 gangs with 1,500 members were noted by police in 2014. But surveillance by the new Organised Crime, Narcotic/Anti Gang unit now confirms 211 gangs with 2,459 members.
The bill has provisions to penalise gangs seeking to recruit children in schools, orphanages, recreation grounds etc.
Another provision concerns intimidation of people since he noted social pressure on some persons in places where garrison type behaviour was seen.
AG hits LATT’s slow response to Anti Gang Bill
It isn’t “tidy” (sic) that the Law Association took seven months to deliver its comments on the 19 clause Anti-Gang bill, Attorney General Faris Al- Rawi added yesterday.
Al- RAwi had said calls for stakeholders’ comments on the bill were sought when Government decided to present the bill last year. He said no responses were obtained from the Director of Public Prosecutions, LATT and others.
The bill was passed in the House of Representatives two weeks ago.
Al-Rawi noted LATT’s comments came in just before yesterday’s Senate debate-seven months after it was sought- when he noted most of the bill’s 19 clauses had been replicated from the first such bill.
He noted a few LATT points which he said could be worked it, but voiced reservations on a few. “I’m prepared to entertain a few provision made,” Al Rawi added.
UNC Senator Gerald Ramdeen said LATT’s views included some useful ones including on arresting officers.
He said the Senate could have benefitted from LATT’s views as well the DPP’s and Criminal Bar Associations.
GANG MEMBERSHIP BY DIVISION
North Eastern (15 gangs/256 members). POS (41/574 members). Central (10/ 106 members). Southern (19/202 members). Eastern (9/121 members). Northern (25/365 members). South Western ( 21/178 members). Western ( 49/525 members) Tobago (24/190 members)