Crime Chronicles: Poverty and Crime

Posted: February 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Criminology is in essence the study of Crime. It is best studied like detective work, where you take instances of crime and “work backwards,” from the crime to the person. In Trinidad and Tobago however we take everything at front face value and it leads us to conclusions that are often misleading. We have established that the majority of crime comes from poverty stricken areas, but does that mean that poverty is a cause of crime? Note that domestic violence, assault, rape and criminal damage etc, does occur among the affluent in TnT as well, but is less reported and often covered.

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We see poverty and we see crime, however ‘correlation does not necessarily mean causation.’ Studies conducted by various agencies time and time again show this. For the sake of “face value,” which can be distracting, it can also hold hints when looked it correctly. When you see the usual gang members out and about, look at their attire. While tacky at best, the expensive ‘gear’ they wear hints at the nature of most crime, that being ‘Greed over Need.’ Look for another example of the phenomenon in Trinidad of ‘Rape by Vaps,’ where it is a trend now for criminals to just rape a woman after a robbery, especially a home invasion. Many times this is not pre-planned (although in some cases it may be), but what causes this malice? Look further at cases of elderly persons who can barely walk being beaten mercilessly after a robbery. These actions are rooted in a much deeper social issue, which in itself is the cause of crime.

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The major Criminal element in Trinidad and Tobago is one breed through generations of destructive social engineering, which in turn consolidated the gang culture of select impoverished areas. The mentality of ruthlessness and vile actions spread like an epidemic in the absence of order and decency. With the absence of a father figure, in a similar way a youth from the ghetto would find a sense of belonging in a criminal gang robbing people, one from privilege may find himself causing reckless endangerment or even criminal damage in his/her parent’s prado. In those select impoverished areas it has reached the stage of almost being natural selection where the tough dominate, and only those who can adapt to be like them eventually survive (or even strive). Those who do not conform to this are usually always in the crossfire (sometimes literally), or are forced to move out from the area they reside in. This leads us to the pertinent questions “How do we fix this, what do we do?”

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While poverty still does not equate to crime, it is important to provide the hope of a better living while addressing the social issues at hand. That being said however we have been at a stage for a long time where it is necessary to execute harsh crime control methods in lieu of general order around the country. I.e. the push against the criminal element for the time cannot be looking at these gang members as lost little boys, but rather the hardened end product of a failed culture and society. In short, trying to ‘save’ those who are already lost is far secondary to eradication of those who violently resist and pose a threat to the safety and security of our Nations’s People. Social initiatives are paramount in preventing the next generation of gangsters from filling in the ranks that would be disposed of, and that does start alongside aggressive crime policy.

It is with this that I hold hope that general public will be better educated on matters of Crime, that the current Government will do what is needed, and Governments following will work forward to break the cycle and ensure a safer and more progressive Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
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Paul-Daniel Nahous BS, CHS-I, ATO
Law Enforcement Consultant
Combat Specialist

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