Political Leader of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) David Abdulah says crime is not a public health crisis, but it is a crisis of public policy.
He made the comment at the MSJ’s weekly media briefing on Sunday, as the country gets set to host regional leaders for a Caricom crime symposium.
Abdulah said the lack of a proper policy over decades has created this situation not only in Trinidad and Tobago but throughout the region.
He suggested a reform of the education sector and the criminal justice sector as a way to curb the crime situation.
According to Abdulah, the society has always been a violent one, dating all the way back to slavery, and through colonialism, and he said there are other forms of violence like economic violence of income and wealth inequality.
He said this has been going on for decades, and has been getting worse in the last 15 to 20 years.
“I’m sure the researchers could track the increase in murders, with the increase in the gap between the rich and the poor, Abdulah said. “When people are left to fend for themselves unemployed, denied opportunities to provide for themselves and for their families and so on.”
He said he wants to see reform and transformation of the curriculum from primary school all the way up.
“So the focus is not on passing exams, but on learning and developing social skills,” he said. “In addition to, of course, the necessary academic and technical skills that the country needs, our next generation of human resource to possess.”
“We also are saying that the hours of school should be extended from 2:30 or 3:00pm secondary schools, primary schools to later in the afternoon, 4:30pm. so that when children get home, their parents will be at home,” Abdulah suggested.
Abdulah said during the extra hours the children should be involved in extra curricular activities of music and drama and dance and sport and, “other aspects of the creative imagination.”
He said when children are home but their parents aren’t at home yet, they may fall prey to peer pressure and bad influences in the neighbourhood.
Abdulah is also suggesting the financial intelligence unit be removed from a department at the Ministry of Finance, and made more independent through a separate piece of legislation with the powers of investigation which can then be presented to the DPP and then to the police to lay the charges.