Kamla unveils anti-crime plans
OPPOSITION LEADER Kamla Persad-Bissessar is proposing that there be State support for the children of incarcerated people.
This was one of the proposals in the UNC’s national security plans which were disclosed in the Opposition Leader’s budget reply which was presented in the House of Representatives yesterday.
The Opposition Leader said the UNC was also recommending that the State create a fund for children who have lost one or both parents to crime.
Stating that what was being seen in schools was not bullying but the emergence of a gang culture and violent crime, she said a zero-tolerance approach should be enforced with respect to physical violence in schools.
‘Any student physically attacking another student must be immediately removed from school and only be allowed to return after completing neurodiagnostic testing and a proper counselling programme approved by the State,’ she said, adding that, in the interim, virtual learning should be used.
She further recommended the introduction of parent patrols in all schools, where a parent of each enrolled student must spend at least one full day at their child’s school to maintain discipline with deans, teachers and student support services and the introduction of an anonymous anti-bullying app for students to make reports.
Persad-Bissessar also recommended a review of the legislation allowing the use of marijuana.
Pointing out that there had been an exponential increase in marijuana usage and addiction among teens and young adults, she said due to a lack of State agency oversight and control of supply, users were smoking marijuana laced with cocaine.
She said a task force to address the ‘imminent arrival and use of (the drug) fentanyl’ should be established.
A short-term assessment should also be performed to identify the scale of involvement by illegal immigrants in criminal activity.
Persad-Bissessar said there should be a mandatory cut-off time for all public events requiring a dancehall licence not held within an enclosed building, with exceptions being made during the Carnival season.
Minimum security detention centres She said anti-crime initiatives that were immediately implementable included: the strengthening of a rebranded highway patrol unit, proper staffing of the E999 call centre so that citizens don’t have to wait over 45 minutes at times or have no one answering; reactivating community comfort patrols; increase and maintain CCTV cameras throughout Trinidad and Tobago; increase covert operations at the seaports and airports; provide support for the Transnational Organised Crime Unit; enhance and fully reimplement the National Operations Centre; equip every police vehicle with GPS and link via NOC and indoor and outdoor shooting ranges for all the protective services.
Persad-Bissessar repeated some of her previous recommendations such as: the enactment of stand your ground laws, creation of the offence of home invasions, allowance for the right to bear arms by law-abiding citizens, legislation to make the establishment of gated communities easier; increase in complement of municipal police, police officers on a full-time basis in all schools; restructure national security into three ministries, increase in retirement age for the Defence Force, minimum security detention centres; law to prevent incarceration of non-violent drug offenders (addicts).
The Opposition Leader said since 2015 there had been a sharp increase in the prices of goods and services.
The price of fish had increased by 26 per cent; dairy products by 32 per cent, bread and cereal by 41 per cent; cooking oil by 67 per cent, fruit by 52 per cent and vegetables by 61 per cent. She said citizens seeking medical care had to pay 45 per cent more today than in 2015.
She said there can be no prosperity without food security.
She proposed that the Government sign multi-year contracts with farmers to provide goods to the school feeding programme.
‘This is the only way they will be able to access credit and financing from banks to increase production,’ she said.
She said the agricultural degree programmes at The University of the West Indies must be revised so that students receiving GATE and entering the programme must agree to start farms at the end of their first two years on lands provided by the Government and including modern modes of production.
‘At the end of four years, they will spend a fifth completing the academic requirements. They will be trained as agri-entrepreneurs from the classroom itself. This is making learning not only relevant but adding jobs and food for the table,’ she said.
Persad-Bissessar said community farms could be established in the same way so that they could achieve production within 12 to 18 months.
She said focus should be placed on corn and soya bean production to provide feed for chickens and small ruminants since the capacity to import these products could be severely affected by war and climate change.
Kamla unveils anti-crime plans