Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says the Government has spent $80 million to install 2,500 CCTV cameras across the country to give the T&T Police Service an extra boost in its fight against the criminal element.
Speaking at a People’s National Movement (PNM) meeting in Chaguanas last night, the Prime Minister said during a meeting with the TTPS’ divisional heads on Monday, the issue of a lack of CCTV cameras was highlighted.
Rowley, as head of the National Security Council, met with the divisional heads at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s amid the rising crime surge in the country.
PM Rowley said when he asked the senior officers what the Government could do to assist in their crime fighting efforts, several of the heads said CCTV cameras would allow the TTPS to identify criminals.
“We were able to tell them that we are on that track because the Government has just spent $80 million to provide 2,500 cameras at various locations across the country and they are being installed as I speak to you now,” Rowley said.
In fact, he said the Government intends to install even more CCTV systems in the coming months.
“And the intention is to install another 2,500, that means there will be 5,000 public cameras in public spaces which are operated and owned by the government of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
Private citizens and business owners who want to install CCTV systems as a level of protection have also been considered, the Prime Minister said.
“I’ve had discussions before with the Minister of Finance and he will operationalise it, where we are going to make not only tax free but for the next 12 months from whenever the Minister of Finance does it for a 12-month period, we will give a tax uplift, a tax break, so if you spend a $100, we will make it $100-plus as a tax break for the corporate sector, for individual homes and for individuals to put cameras in and around your homes in this country,” Rowley said.
He said this was being done because criminals have to come out of their “holes” to operate and these cameras can track and map their movements to assist police in capturing them.
The Prime Minister also lambasted the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) for not supporting the Bail Amendment Bill when it was brought to Parliament.
Rowley said the Opposition was only concerned with winning elections.
He said the divisional heads have also been calling from the bill to be proclaimed.
“They asked the Government to give them certain resources, one of the resources they asked for was legislative…And yesterday, once again those police officers were saying to me is that what they would find most helpful is a return to the use of the restriction for bail,” Rowley said.
He said the senior officers told him the Bail Bill was a great tool for keeping repeat offenders off the streets.
“But the Opposition has said very clearly unless they are in office, they will have nothing to do with the restriction of bail in this country, that is their position,” he said.
Attorney General Reginald Armour is reportedly now looking at revising certain elements bill to return it to the Parliament, but the UNC has already telegraphed that it will not support it.
However, Rowley said when he led the then-opposition PNM between 2010 and 2015, he supported the same bill as it was brought by then-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
“That was a PNM Opposition but that is what happens when you have a real Opposition in any country.”
Rowley quoted a recent legislative policy in Jamaica to set a 15-year minimum sentence for those with illegal firearms. He said if that policy had been brought by his Government, the Opposition would not support it.
“Because whether it supports the public interest or not, those who are on the other side, all they are concerned about is election and hoping that the election will come and that you would put them in office,” he said.