Agencies of government, plus actors in the community and voluntary and private sectors, are being brought on board to help in the new National Crime Prevention Plan (NCPP).
Edmund Dillon expressed that the goal is to change hearts and minds before individuals embark on a life of crime.
While he has high hopes of his new initiative, he noted the NCPP is largely being supported by the use of existing resources of infrastructure and manpower.
He said talks have already begun with the two pilot areas, the Diego Martin and Chaguanas municipalities.
“We’ve engaged all the municipalities including Tobago, and of course the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. We also had the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs, Community Development and Culture and Public Utilities. So this thing is grounded in a whole of government approach, what we call ‘citizen-centred but community-driven.’ It is a bottom-up approach to the issue of prevention.”
He said the NCPP will empower and educate communities in a preventative philosophy, to keep youngsters away from crime, and so avert the need for “hard” law enforcement.
“As a community let us see how we can prevent those elements from engaging in a mind-set of crime. How can we develop a kind of physical space, because there is always a causal factor between the physical environment and the causes of crime.”
When asked about the NCPP’s cost,
Dillon replied, “What we have been doing is utilising existing structures.” He said the NCPP will be based at various community crime prevention councils spread across the country’s municipalities.”
The councils will be made up from NGOs, faith-based organizations, youth groups, councillors, village councils, police officers, fire officers, municipal police and chambers of commerce.
“It is a cross-section. At that level it’s voluntary. You reach out to those people who can play a part, if each person asks themselves, ‘What can I do to prevent crime in my community?’ And secondly, ‘What can my community do to prevent crime?’”
When asked about any central hub to co-ordinate this spread of community-level activities, he said that “The secretariat is manned by a manager. There is an inter-ministerial team and then a council of members. It is a whole of government approach,” Dillon said.
“Issues identified at community level can be treated by a number of ministries at the same time, whether Education, Sport and Youth and Public Utilities.”
On responding to whether the programme would be monitored, he said, “We are going to have measurables. We have a monitoring and evaluation unit. We’ll monitor which specific issues have been identified, how solutions have been determined, what are the time limits of response and feedback. So we’ll treat this in terms of issues, treatment of the issues, solutions and feedback.”