Laws Don’t Catch Criminals


Would another new law lead to less crime in T&T?  While the man on the street and some experts have answered that question in the negative on prior occasions, we ask the same question again because the legislators seem to firmly believe otherwise. The proof of this was evident when National Security Minister, Stuart Young guaranteed the Parliament recently that the new Firearms Amendment Bill will stop criminals in their tracks. Maybe it’s the same belief they had about the Anti Gang Legislation leading to the magical disappearance of gang-bangers. We don’t know. But we’re waiting just like you, for the magic show to begin.

Maybe it’s time to enlighten our learned elected representatives about the reality that laws don’t catch criminals. Laws like the Firearms Amendment Bill, are intended to deal with them effectively only when they are caught. And that is the key element that seems to be missing that no one wants to acknowledge. Our dreadful detection rate is the reason why criminals continue to act with impunity, shooting and killing each other in broad daylight. No fear for the consequences of their actions is the reason why so many businesses are being held up at gunpoint despite having sophisticated security systems. And it’s the reason why state witnesses and defendants in so many matters are being killed like flies every single week.

Let’s face it. If murderers were fearful of the law alone there would be no murders. The penalty for murder is still death by hanging. It has always been that way. But until there is enforcement of the law and until these criminals are caught, there will be no relenting. Emphasis, in our humble opinion, should be placed on greater detection. Basic technology that has been in use in other countries for decades is non-existent here. DNA testing has reached unbelievable heights yet we are struggling to get it off the ground. Competent investigators and detectives who are patriots should be sought even from abroad and the crooked officers who perpetuate crime should be thrown out with the garbage.

We acknowledge that some of our archaic laws need to be amended. And we understand the challenges law enforcement officers face daily with the criminal element one step ahead. So we say, go ahead and strengthen legislation but at the same time, nothing should be spared in the pursuit and arrest of these gun toting criminals. Maybe the Police Commissioner’s lie detector testing for police is a move in that direction. The only thing we are positive about is that until some decisive action is taken to enforce punishment for criminality, the severity of the law is of little significance.