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Preventing Criminal Activity In Trinidad And Tobago Criminology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 5385 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In the formation of this policy for the Police Service to assist it in its goal of preventing criminal activity in Trinidad and Tobago we were compelled to take into consideration the Human aspect of this important and must achieve goal. Just as in the context of a country, the human resource is the most important resource any organization could possess, and as such, it is of paramount importance that this resource becomes one of the principle priorities of the organization so that it can develop to its truest potential. As Abraham Maslow stated in his Hierarchy of Needs theory that there are five stages which we all must pass through in order to attain the ultimate goal to which we all aspire, that is, Self Actualization, having reached our goals personal growth and development. We will also see that with that combination of highly trained, educated motivated, individuals along with the usage of the most modern innovations in technology, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service would no longer exist in the realm of Re-action but would rather be Pro-Active in its thrust to suppress the criminal element and their unlawful activities.

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The formation of this policy for the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is crucial for the organization to enhance its capabilities in its virtual WAR against criminal elements both internally and externally. The T.T.P.S. has a long and distinguished history, however, the world has changed by incredible advances in technology for the benefit and the destruction of all life on the planet. It is because of the increase in man’s epistemology that even the criminal elements have at their disposal a wide variety of “tools” at their disposal with which to commit some of the most heinous of crimes.

The executive of the T.T.P.S. have now manages an organization which is seen primarily as a reactionary body of law enforcement personnel, who at times do not even respond well to even the most ordinary reports made by citizens. The management of the organization on a whole is an archaic relic from the early pre and postcolonial era, which is reflected in every aspect of policing in this twin island state.

We intend to show that with the right approach to recruiting, training, meeting the needs of the human resource element of the service and improvements in the area of crime detection and prevention (technology), modern policing would once again become the over whelming goal of every member of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.


The Spaniards founded the first European settlement, Trinidad’s capital town San Jose de Oruna (St. Joseph). The office of Cabildo or Town Council controlled the Police Force .Duties were restricted to within the town. The strength of the Police Force never exceeded six between 1752 and 1792.

After slavery was abolished in 1838, over 22,000 men and women enjoyed their full civil rights, the responsibility of the Police increased and a “rural system of Police “had to be established. By the end of 1842, there were twelve Police stations and approximately one hundred officers comprising Inspectors, Sergeants and constables.

In the mid nineteenth century members of the Metropolitan Police were brought to Trinidad on secondment, thus the Police Force had a mixed composition as far as racial strains were concerned. During this period, the Police Headquarters was housed at the corner of Abercromby and Hart Streets.

The only weapon the Policeman carried was his truncheon, which was four feet long. Then violence would be met with violence, here is where a local tradition of the Police “beating first and arresting after” was given birth. The general pattern of law enforcement in the 1840’s was , once arrested the Police took the accused to the station or if he was recalcitrant, held him and sent to call the sergeant. All police stations were Courthouses as Magistrates travelled from one police station to another. This was until 1844 when trial by jury and the English statutes were introduced to Trinidad.

In 1851, the police was appointed the country’s first postmen and mail carriers and the police stations were transformed into Post Offices. The Mounted Branch was established for this purpose. In 1860, the Police Force was relieved of some of these extracurricular duties.

In 1869, an ordinance was initiated for better organization and discipline of the Police Force. With a more organized Police Force, greater police surveillance of residents was provided.

The Police Headquarters at the corner of St.Vincent and Sackville Streets was completed in 1876 housing approximately four hundred and fifty-two (452) men. Over the years, the strength increased and other units were established, such as Traffic Branch in 1930 and Special Branch.

By 1955, the need for policewomen to deal with juveniles and female offenders had long been overdue. Under Ordinance No. 6 of 195, twelve members of the fairer sex were drafted into the Force.

Now the institution was responsible to the people of Trinidad and Tobago for their deeds and misdeeds. Thereafter a Commission of Enquiry was appointed by the government to probe the administration and discipline of the Police Service. In 1966 the then Governor General assented to the Police Service Act, which enacted the Police Service Regulation 1965. This Act divided the Service into two divisions – the first and second divisions. It also introduced a change from Police Force to Police Service. This change was not only in name but also in operation .The focus shifted from been a militaristic force to a service-oriented organization. The Police Service subsequently established a mission and vision statement.

Mission Statement:

To engender a feeling of safety and security by upholding the law firmly and fairly while providing prompt, courteous and professional service in partnership with the communities.

Vision Statement: To be the national provider of professional policing services.

By the 1970’s the Police Service had grown in strength to 3,399 members and was placed under the portfolio of the Ministry of National Security. Mr. Francis Eustace Bernard was the first local to be appointed Commissioner of Police in 1973.

In 1881, the Police Headquarters was destroyed by the fire, which was caused by the kerosene oil lighting system. The Police Headquarters was destroyed for a second time in 1990, this time during the attempted coup. A new Police Administration Building was constructed at the corner of Edward and Sackville Streets the following year housing Administrative offices.

The history of the Police Service has experienced a series of social unrest in Trinidad and Tobago, namely the Canboulay Riots, Hosay Massacre, 1903 water riots, Labour Riots of 1937, Black Power Revolution and the Jamaat al Muslimeen coup attempt of 1990.

Firstly, the Canboulay Riots were riots by the descendants of freed slaves in the cities of Trinidad and Tobago against attempts by the British Police to crack down on aspects of the celebration of Carnival. The riots occurred in February 1881 in Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad as the Police Force clashed with revellers who had banded together against the Police. This caused resentment amongst the ordinary people of Trinidad who valued the festival despite the clashes. Due to the feelings of the population, Governor Sir Sanford Freeling confined police to barracks in order to calm down the situation. However, when Freeling was recalled in 1883, Captain Arthur Baker, the head of the Police Force at that time sought to put an end to the Canboulay, as it was a threat to public order. As such, he cracked down at the Canboulay in the southern cities of San Fernando and Princes Town during the carnival of February 1884 in which lives were lost. In Princes Town, the masquerades attacked the police station after magistrate Hobson decided to confine the police to barracks because the crowd was too large. After Hobson was felled with a stone, the police opened fire on the rioters killing a youth and seriously injuring two others causing the crowd to flee. The Carnival was often marred with clashes between groups of revellers carrying sticks and lighted torches. While the confrontation started in song duels between the chantwells but often worsened to physical violence. The British authorities banned carrying sticks and torches in 1868 due to a clash between two groups. However, this ban was not enforced for some years.

Secondly the Hosay massacre (also known as the Hosay riots or the Jahaji massacre0 took place on Thursday October 30th 1884 in San Fernando, Trinidad during the annual Hosay procession (the local name for the Shi’a Festival of Muharram). The decision by the British colonial authorities had banned the Indians from entering the town with their procession. The Indians regarded this as arbitrary and unjust measure and protested with a petition led by the Hindu Sookhoo and 31 others.

On 26th October Administrator John Bushe consulted the Executive Council on the final arrangements to be made for preserving order during the Hosea Acting Colonial Secretary, Mr. Pyne, informed the Inspector Commandant of Police, Captain Barker instructing him on the deployment of police, marines, from the HMS Dido, and a ‘volunteer force’.

On October 30th 1884, the first procession of 6,000 was sighted approaching San Fernando reaching Cross-Crossing and proceeded along to the entrance of Cipero Street. There the Indians met by British troops under Major Bowles of the First North Staffordshire Regiment. The local magistrate, a Mr. Child, read the Riot Act and when the crowd failed to disperse, he proceeded to order the police to fire upon the unarmed Indians.

At Mon Repos Junction of the Princess Town and Circular roads a similar fate was to meet the Indians there. The procession was in sight about 3:30pm. Captain Baker gave the order to the police to fire upon the procession of Indians after the Riot Act was read to them.

Nine persons were reportedly killed and 100 wounded at Toll Gate (on the south side of town), while others were injured at Mon Repos (on the eastern side of the town and at Pointe-a-Pierre Road on the north.

Thirdly, the water riots took place in Port of Spain Trinidad and Tobago, because of the riots, the Red House, which was the seat of the Executive and Legislative Council was destroyed.

Following the building of national waterworks infrastructure, the Government passed an ordinance that increased of the cost of water. A number of public meetings had been held to protest the increase, culminating in a demonstration on March 23 in Brunswick Square, located outside the Red House. Protesters threw rocks at the building, smashing windows and causing members of the legislature to hide under tables for protection. The protesters then set the lower floor on fire, at which time police opened fire on the crowd, killing thirteen people, and injuring forty-two others. The fire completely gutted the Red House.

Fourthly, in response to poor working conditions and inadequate pay, the labour riots of 1937 shook Trinidad and led to the birth of the trade union movement. Labour problems again resulted in unrest in 1965. The rise of the Black Power Movement late in the 1960s culminated in the 1970 Black Power Revolution, which threatened the government of Prime Minister Eric Williams. TheBlackPower Revolution also known as the 1970 Revolution, Black Power Uprising and also by some as the February Revolution was an attempt by a number of social elements, peoples and interest groups with a lot of varied interest to make plain the issues which the leaders and planners of the day failed to address and redress.

Between 1968 and 1970, the movement gained strength in Trinidad and Tobago. The National Joint Action Committee was formed out of the Guild of Undergraduates at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies. Under the leadership of Geddes Granger (now Makandal Daaga) NJAC and the Black Power movement appeared as a serious challenge to Prime Minister Eric Williams’ authority. This was coupled with a growing militancy by the Trade Union movement, led by George Weeks of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union, Clive Nunez of the Transport and Industrial Workers Union and Basdeo Panday, then a young trade union lawyer and activist. The Black Power Revolution began with a 1970 Carnival band named Pinetoppers who presentation entitled The Truth about Africa included portrayals of “revolutionary heroes” including Fidel Castro, Stokely Carmichael and Tubal Uriah Butler.

The Black Power movement was led by various interests within the trade unions , the army and other social groups like Afro-Trinidadians and were noted to attract many disaffected members of the then ruling PNM under Eric Williams.

On April 6, 1970 a protester, Basil Davis, was killed by Police. On April 18, sugar workers went on strike, and there was talk of a general strike. In response to this, Williams proclaimed a State of Emergency on April 21 and the Police arrested 15 Black Power leaders. Responding in turn, a portion of the Trinidad Defence Force, led by Raffique Shah and Rex Lassalle, mutinied and took hostages at the army barracks at Teteron. Through the action of the Coast Guard and negotiations between the Government and the rebels, the mutiny was contained and the mutineers surrendered on April 25.

Further, on Friday July 27, 1990, 114 members of the Jamaat al Muslimeen, led by Yasin Abu Bakr and Bilaal Abdullah attempted to sage a coup d’etat against the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Forty-two insurgents stormed the Red House (seat of Parliament) and took the Prime Minister, A.N.R Robinson and most of this Cabinet hostage, including Horace James, while seventy-two of their compatriots attacked the offices of Trinidad and Tobago Television and the Trinidad Broadcasting Company.

The Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and eh police responded by sealing off the area around the Red House. Widespread looting and arson took place in Port of Spain and other parts of she East-West Corridor, but the remainder of the country was calm. Acting President Emmanuel Carter declared a State of Emergency and Martial law was imposed. Several members of Cabinet who had not been present in the Red house at the time of the attack set up office in the Trinidad Hilton. On the night of the 27th, the Army took control of the TTT transmitter on Cumberland Hill, thus taking TTT off the air. After six days of negotiation, the Muslimeen surrendered on August 1, and were taken into custody. About 24 people died during the coup attempt, with millions in property losses. Among the dead was Member of Parliament for Diego martin Central, Leo Des Vignes. Many people saw the coup attempt, with millions in property losses. Among the dead was Member of Parliament for Diego Martin Central, Leo Des Vignes. Many people saw the coup attempt as the end of power of the National Alliance for Reconstruction government.

Eustace Bernard was the first local man who rose from the rank of a constable in 1943 to the Commissioner of Police. The Police Service is made of the First and Second divisions, with the officers of the first ranging in rank from Assistant Superintendent, Superintendent, Senior Superintendent, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Deputy Commissioner of Police and The Commissioner of Police. The ranks of the second division include; Constable, Corporal, Sergeant, Inspector.

The police have eight divisions – seven in Trinidad and one in Tobago, Branches include a riot control unit (called the Police Mobile Force), units for highway control and crime investigation, and a court and process unit, which is responsible for preparing court cases up to committal proceedings. Although most police personnel are trained at the Police Training School, trainee constables are occasionally sent to Britain for additional training.

Drug trafficking has presented serious national security problems in the country. The Scott Drug Report which was made public in 1987 described an explosive increase in the use of cocaine, attributing it to Trinidad and Tobago’s location on the trade route between the producers in Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and the main market in the United States. It implicated many police officers, some of whom held senior posts. Since then, a special task force has been set, up which deals with drug trafficking.


The government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in its role as provider of state run security through the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, engaged the services of Stephen Mastrofski, professor of Criminal Justice at the Michigan State University. One of professor Mastrofski initiatives is “Policing for People”, this is made up of the following components:

Attentiveness: being accessible to the public to attend to their needs

Responsiveness: timely assistance that helps citizens solve their problems

Competence: knowing how to get the job done

Reliability: police service that routinely meets acceptable standards

Respect: treating all members of the public with dignity and using only the amount of force required by competent officers to get the job done

Fairness: treating people fairly under the law and without bias toward personal characteristics and background.

He envisaged that these components were essential as a staging point for the improvement in the quality and professional service provided by the members of the T.T.P.S. in particular at the district station level. To this end, he recommended the formulation of the Model Station initiative in which the foregoing components are to be used to their fullest effect.

In order to rate, the effectiveness of this initiative experienced officials from the George Mason University; U.S.A would evaluate the progress and impact of the program by:

Surveying officers assigned to the station districts to measure their perceptions and experiences with the initiative

Tabulating data routinely collected by the Police Service in tracking station activities

On-the-scene observations of police activities in the station districts

Surveying residents of the station districts to measure their perceptions of the Police Service and their experiences crime and other problems

The goals of this initiative are achieved by:

Assigning competent and committed managers to lead the Model Stations

Increasing the staffing of the Model Stations

Limiting the transfers from the Model Stations for one year

Repairing and upgrading station facilities

Providing vehicles and essential suppliers and equipment to the stations

Providing a wide range of training for constables and supervisors

Constantly monitoring the program and making changes to meet the challenges

Keep the Police Service and the public informed of the progress

This initiative started with the following police stations:

West End Police Station- Western Division

Morvant Police Station- North Eastern Division

Arouca Police Station- Northern Division

Chaguanas Police Station- Central Division

San Fernando Police Station – Southern Division

Other police stations are to come on stream in the future. It is expected that this initiative would see the much-anticipated turnaround in the degree of service and level professionalism that the people of Trinidad and Tobago rightfully expect from its Police Service.


Every organization in order to maintain its effectiveness, professionalism and simply put, provide the best product for its customers must have set programs to cater to the needs of its varied customers. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service is no different, especially as it provides a service, the protection of all citizens and visitors alike from the criminal element, who is presently reaping havoc on this twin island state.

Based on the initiatives of Professor Stephen Mastrofski, a new motto was coined for the police service; “To Protect and Serve With Pride” whose acronym is:






These are all embodied in the Policing for People initiative; however, we have viewed with alarm the increasingly demoralized and proper equipment lacking Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. Technology is used sparingly in the police service, as well as there is no system for use of the organization greatest asset, its human resource. We have gladly accepted the challenge of providing a policy for a strong and technologically advanced police service that is the best in the Western Hemisphere.

With this in mind, we shall now reveal the strategic areas which our policy would seek to improve upon for the move of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service into the twentieth century.


The Recruitment Process:

At present there exists a draft policy with respect to recruitment into the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, the current legislation provides for the following to be done in the Assessment as to the suitability of an applicant for his/her recruitment into the Police Service:

Recruitment of Trainees into the Police Service as stipulated by Regulations 3 and 4 of the Police Service Regulation 2007:

The requirement for police trainees includes:

Be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago

Be required to pass a medical examination.

Be required to undergo a polygraph test, psychological test and be tested for dangerous drugs at the cost of the Service.

Be of good character as evidence by a police Certificate of Character.

Be no less than eighteen years (18) and not more than thirty-five (35) years of age on January 1, 2009.

In the case of a male, must be of good physique and at least one hundred and sixty-seven (167) centimeters in height,

In case of a female, must be of good physique and at least one hundred and fifty (1500 centimeters in height.

Possess five (5) passes in the CXC Examinations including English language at General Proficiency Grades I, II or III or Basic Proficiency Grade I or G.C.E O’Level Grades A, B, C.

Possess a Trinidad and Tobago driver’s permit with a class 3 endorsement to drive light motor vehicles.

Be required to pass a physical examination and an agility test.

Be required to pass a written examination

Submit a sample of DNA

Complete a prescribed application form

Submit finger print impressions for tracing

Undergo an investigation

Be interviewed by a panel

Pass a medical psychiatric examination

Submit to a blood test

We are in full agreement with all of the above requirements as applies to recruits into the Service; this will afford the organization to select the best candidate for the job.


In our opening piece on training we made mention of the present systems used to train recruits into the police service, however, these have now become a source of concern both for the academy’s instructors and management.

The Police training college has being renamed the Police Academy and along with the name change there is now a Provost, Mr. Steve Watts a national of the United States of America, as the head of the academy, with Assistant Superintendent of Police Mr. Anthony Bernard as his second in command. We are of the view that there are suitably qualified locals capable of heading the management of the academy, one of whom is ASP Bernard. He has the required experience, qualifications and the professional disposition to hold that position.

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The physical conditions in the academy must be upgraded quickly to afford its staff and trainees the best possible environment to teach and learn their policing skills. A curriculum reviewed to include training in the use of computers, introduction to the scientific study of forensics investigations, an introduction to psychology, criminology and sociology; social sciences that are fundamental to understanding why persons engage in deviant behaviour and progress to become career criminals.

When the officer has graduated from the academy and is posted to their respective divisions / branches the training must not stop there, instead we propose a system of in house training and refresher courses designed to bring officers up to date with the latest trends in policing and crime detection and prevention. There will at times be the need for such training to be conducted by accredited external agencies.

Mandatory collection DNA samples from arrested persons:

Presently there is no legislation to collect DNA samples from persons arrested for any offence or any crime; this in its self is one of the biggest drawbacks for successfully profiling criminals and criminal activity. The Legislative must be made aware of the importance of this scientific approach to crime fighting. The finger print impressions of criminals alone cannot assist in the detection of crimes and the bringing perpetrators to justice. In our quest for first world status, all scientific methods of crime detection must be employed.

C.A.P.A and C.I.U:

C.A.P.A is the acronym for Crime and Problem Analysis Branch, it was officially established in the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service on May 10, 2007, by way of Cabinet Minute #1155 of 2007. This Branch is a data- processing unit that analyses information from crime reports and other sources to better inform the crime-deterrence, disruption and detection efforts of the service. At present this important arm of the service is woefully under staffed which in turn affects the effectiveness of its operations. Consequently, we recommend the sanctioned strength must be increased to; 2 ASP’s, 3 Inspectors, 8 Sergeants, 4 Corporals and 25 Constables, thus giving the branch an adequate man power pool to carry out its mandate.

C.I.U. is the acronym for the Criminal Intelligence Unit, it was established in the Service on July 22, 2005 with the mandate to:

Collect, collate, evaluate, analyse and disseminate intelligence in relation to targeted offences

Establish a database and intelligence network encompassing the State’s Prison

Acquire biodata of all persons released, having been incarcerated for the last ten (10) years, for targeted offences

Establish an intelligence network encompassing all courts throughout Trinidad and Tobago

Maintain a register and monitor the activities of persons repatriated by foreign governments

Human Resource:

The human resource of any organization is one of its major assets as a result it must be fined tuned in such a manner so as to afford the employee every opportunity to reach their fullest potential , both in their personal space and on the job , thus providing the organization with the best the employee can offer. With this in mind, we propose a radical new move towards a comprehensive system of caring for the members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. This would include:

The provision of proper health and psychiatric care for every member of the Service, the present system is too archaic and cannot provide the necessary service for police officers; who are herded into the same building with members of other arms of the protective services.

Support systems to assist personnel in their time of personal tragedy, and not only on the death of a family member.

The appointment of Social Workers in every police division

Proper recreational facilities would to be housed in every divisional headquarters throughout the Service.

Officers with substance abuse issues would undergo counseling and treatment at the appropriate institutions.

Free medical attention and medications for families of service personnel.

These measures are designed to foster an element of caring for the officers, which is an important psychological tool organizational management implement worldwide with great success.

The Re-Introduction of the Police Marine Branch:

From its inception up to the time of its disbandment in the mid 1980s the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Marine Branch played an important role in the interception of illegal firearms and ammunition, narco-traffickers and even the cross border trade in prostitution, even though it suffered from the lack of efficient and sea worthy vessels. After its untimely demise the waters off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago have become a haven for all and sundry bent on engaging in criminal activity.

Consequently, we view the re-introduction of the Police Marine Branch to be another of the means to taking the fight to the criminals. The efforts of the coastguard off our shores are evidently not enough, even though they have some of the latest equipment and technology at their disposal.

Witness protection:

We closely examined what now applies as the witness protection program and it was quite apparent that this integral component of law enforcement and the successful prosecution of perpetrators of crimes was over looked and operated in a haphazard system of protection of key witnesses. They more often than not leave these “safe houses” and their dead bodies found in other areas of the country. We propose a system, similar to what pertains in first world countries:

The witness is given a new identity (depending on the seriousness of the crime and treats to their or their families lives),

Suitable accommodation would be available at certain specified locations for witnesses and their families with around the clock protection, including CCTV surveillance within a two-mile radius.

Relocation to other countries with whom we have the required diplomatic relations should the need arise

Witness and their families would receive financial support until they can become self- sufficient in this regard.


The use of Technology in the the Prevention of Criminal Activity

The prevention of crime is one that Trinidad and Tobago like any other country that is striving for first world status will have to deal with. History has shown that the more developed a society becomes the more it has to deal with serious crime. We propose some of the following steps to prevent serious crime and we would use modern day technology as a main weapon to take our course.

Computerization of Operations:

Firstly, we want to implement a national computer net work that all Government agencies would now use and a new police intelligence unit would have access to at a push of a button. This would mean that any vehicle that would have registered with the licensing office the police would have access to that information as to type, model, make, colour and owner just by imputing the registration number of the vehicle under surveillance.

This information would be available to the officers on mobile patrol since our policy would see the implementation of all police patrol vehicles being equipped with computers that are link to the police command centre. The officers on mobile patrol would now know if a car is bearing false plates or not as these stolen vehicles are frequently used to commit other crimes

Fig. 1; use of computers in police mobile units.

Fig. 1; computer used in mobile unit



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