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Dillon: Immediate action when missing persons are reported

Trinidad Express / Police are supposed to begin investigations immediately after receiving a report of a missing person, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon told the House of Representatives yesterday as the issue of Sharlene Somai was raised. Responding to a question from Fzyabad MP Dr Lackram Bodoe, at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, on whether it was standard operating practice for there to be a 24-hour wait before a missing person’s report achieves investigation status, Dillon said such a report “is treated with the highest level of priority immediately” after it is received. He said there were clear standing operating procedures for all officers for investigating cases of missing persons. Chaguanas West MP Ganga Singh said having regard to the newspaper report (that police waited 24 hours before beginning to search for the missing woman), it was clear the standard operating proce­dures were not followed with Somai. Asked whether the standard operating procedures were followed, Dillon said: “The Trinidad and Tobago police react immediately on a report of a missing person.” Dillon said the procedures involved a team of investiga­tors compri­sing members of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit, members of the CID and the Criminal Records Office, collecting all relevant information on the circum- stances surrounding the disappearance of the person, as well as pertin­ent information such as photographs, clothing, last person spoken to or the last person to see the missing person. He said the assistance of the Strategic Services Agency (SSA) and the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force is sought, if and as required, and the police also partner with the business community, using the electronic billboard to post pictures of the missing person to encourage public involvement. He said the TTPS continues to encourage parents and guardians to have good relationships and good communication with their children. 1,600 gang members in T&T  In response to a question, Dillon said the number of gangs operating in Trinidad and Tobago between Septem­ber 2011 and January 2017 ranged from 92 to 179, with a membership ranging from 1,500 to 1,600. He said 54 young people were involved in gang acti­vity over the same period and six persons were charged under the Anti-Gang Act. Noting the Criminal Gang Intelligence Unit was established in 2012, Dillon said while the unit had collected some data, prior to 2014, there was no centralised reporting for the type of data. New Commissioner of Police   Responding to a question asking for an update on the status of the appointment of the new Commissioner of Police, Dillon said he could not say when the new CoP would be appointed since it was “beyond his control and lay within the remit of the Police Service Commission (PSC)”. He said between Novem­ber and February 1, the PSC was not duly con­stituted fol­lowing the expiration of the terms of office of three commissioners. He said following the appointment of one member which made the commission duly constituted, the PSC held its first statutory meeting on February 2, 2017, at which a decision was taken that the chairman should send a letter to the firm selected to do the evaluation. He said the letter to the firm was issued on February 3. He said four persons have been identified to serve as members of the team to engage in the process of negotiating with the selected firm. The outcome of the team’s first meeting is being awaited, he said.

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