Chief Secretary Orville London believes that giving soldiers powers of arrest is a lost cause.
“I am really making an appeal to the powers that be in this case the Central Government to find ways and means because I believe that personally that soldiers being given powers of arrest is a lost cause.
“If they (the Government) win it in parliament they have already lost it in the court of public opinion. My recommendation is let’s forget that and let us deal with issues that can make a difference where crime fighting is concerned,” London said at Thursday’s weekly post Executive Council media briefing at the Calder Hall Administrative Complex.
He said he was a little disheartened that so much attention was being paid and the public was being forced to have so much time and energy consumed in debating what he believed was a peripheral issue.
“I object very strongly to soldiers being given powers of arrest but I do not believe that that is the critical issue because whether they are given powers of arrest or not, that is not going to make a serious dent in the crime situation in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
London said ironically while so much attention was being paid to this particular issue, the question of the Selwyn Ryan Report which was supposed to really treat with the fundamental challenges and make recommendations which may or may not be agreed upon but at least allowed a basis for the kind of discourse in the country on the issue of crime.
He said as far as he was concerned this was placed on the back burner and all energies were focused on soldier police debate which regardless of how it ended was not going to make much of a difference in any case.
He added: “I believe if we have a report put forward by a group of panelists who are supposed to be impartial; the focus can be on the recommendation and not in making political points and getting tied up in the arithmetic of crime fighting when we should be dealing primarily with sociology.
“I want to make a personal appeal to let us start focusing on the Ryan Report and the recommendations coming out of that report and similar reports so that we can start treating with those deep-seated social problems that cannot be fixed with any plaster approach,” London said.
London said he was concerned that the last couple years were spent on wandering from one gimmick to another gimmick none of which had a chance of making any serious permanent dent on the crime situation.
“That is just my personal take on that but I really feel it is something that you want to look at,” London said.