The removal of the National Security Minister Edmund Dillon comes as no surprise. The findings of the latest survey conducted by the North American Teachers Association (NACTA) in June and July found that 99% of the population was extremely concerned about crime, and the overwhelming majority (74%) is very dissatisfied with the (fired) Minister’s record in office in tackling crime as well as his handling of allegations surrounding his conduct in a New York City real estate matter. The population was also not pleased with the performance of the Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams in combating crime. Almost every respondent was in favor of having a permanent police commissioner. The respondents say that neither the PNM nor the preceding UNC led government has managed crime well on its own. They want the two dominant political parties to collaborate to eradicate crime and to make the country safe.
The opinion survey was conducted by Dr. Vishnu Bisram with respondents interviewed to represent the plural demographics of the population.
According to the findings of the poll, the population feels that crime has worsened over the last few years and is not seeing any let up. The 99% concern is the highest figure since NACTA started conducting opinion polls in T&T some 25 years ago.
As in preceding opinion surveys, Trinibagonains mention crime as the most important problem facing the country. Some other concerns are: the economy, corruption, healthcare, government arrogance, drug trafficking, environment, infrastructure, and education.
The recent spike in violent homicide rates and other crimes put fear in the population in their movements and even of being alone at home. The population is living in virtual fear concerned about their physical safety or of being robbed. People say they are afraid to go out alone in the dark or very early hours in the morning or moving around in lonely spots or of being in possession of a lot of spending money.
The overwhelming majority of the population feels crime may be a central focus of the next election and that the government will have to do something draconian to arrest crime. The arrival of a new Minister of National Security Minister (Stuart Young) and a new Police Commission (Gary Griffith) may be the injection needed to turn around the crime epidemic.