Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has criticised the criminal justice system for granting quick bail to some perpetrators. He also warned “lawyer criminals’ that he would be “monitoring them like a hawk.”
Addressing members of the Tobago business community on Wednesday at the Shirvan Police Station, Griffith said the current systems in place hinder the police from reducing crime.
He said there is a very good possibility that the people who have committed the vast majority of crimes in Tobago over the past few years, have already been arrested and charged.
“And then we were given virtual diplomatic immunity by the criminal justice system because persons believe that these criminals have a right to be free,” Griffith said, insisting the rights of law-abiding citizens must take precedence.
“It cannot continue.”
Griffith said Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has taken a tough stand on criminals.
“In Barbados, if someone is found with something a little stronger than a slingshot, the prime minister now she has put no bail for 24 months. But we have politicians; we have persons in the media; we have activists; we have people in the Law Association having the audacity to state if I find someone with an assault rifle that can kill hundreds of persons, they have a right to get bail.”
Saying people benefit from crime, the top cop said some even pay individuals to write and speak on their behalf.
He added while criminals lawyers have a right to defend the accused, “there is also something called lawyer criminals and I am monitoring them like a hawk.
“They will not like me but they have their job to do and I have mine. It will be a drastic difference from their direction to mine.”
Griffith said the public must agitate for criminals to be kept in jail without bail for longer periods.
“We can’t crack this if 323 persons we have held with illegal firearms in the last three years have been given bail on the first hearing. And we have the intelligence that says there are no more than 800 shooters. So, we have arguably arrested and held more than half of the individuals, which means that we could have reduced homicide probably by half.
“But, instead the 323 went back out, purchased more weapons, finished the hit and probably put a hit on the person whom they felt sold them out. And then we (police) are expected to deal with the problem.”
Griffith said law-abiding citizens must speak out on this issue.
The meeting, chaired by Tobago Chamber president Diane Hadad, addressed the spate of gun robberies and other criminal activities within recent months. Many police officers, including the island’s top brass, attended.
Some participants spoke about their harrowing experiences with criminals and the island’s porous borders while others complained about the absence of police patrols, particularly in areas that were identified as hotspots. Stakeholders also highlighted instances of perceived police inaction.
Griffith told the businessmen there will be a drastic improvement in the delivery of service from the police service in Tobago.
“I do not have a golden wand. It cannot be done overnight. Certain things we can do. there are some low-hanging fruit I can put in place based on a number of recommendations that you have made.”
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