THA to establish Department of Public Safety

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A policeman directs traffic during a road block exercise at Old Grange, Tobago. – File photo/David Reid

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine has revealed the THA intends to establish a Department of Public Safety (DPS) in the Office of the Chief Secretary to supplement the work of the TT Police Service and other security agencies on the island.

Delivering his maiden Tobago budget presentation on Thursday in the Assembly Legislature, Scarborough, Augustine said the department should be operational by the end of fiscal 2023.

He said while Tobago is relatively safer than Trinidad, his administration has noted the “changing face of criminal activities on the island where firearms are now the weapon of choice in the commission of murders and robberies.”

As such, Augustine said he has been holding monthly meetings with all the heads of national security outfits and the Port Authority of TT, Airports Authority of TT and Tobago Emergency Management Agency.

He said during the meetings, extensive discussions were held on the various coordinated strategies that should be deployed to improve public safety on the island.

“I gave my commitment that the THA will assist where necessary and possible towards ensuring that tools, other equipment and the working environment needed to enhance the performance of these units are provided,” he said.

Augustine said the core mandate of the DPS will be to provide supplemental and complementary delivery of public safety services along with the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Fire Service and the other agencies of national security.

He added the DPS will be established in keeping with the provisions of the Supplemental Police Act, Chapter 15:02.

It will be responsible for the protection and security of the physical assets, critical installations and officials of the THA.

The DPS will comprise assembly police; traffic wardens; litter wardens; environment police; lifeguards; reef rangers; forest rangers and the TEMA.

“It is to be noted that work has already begun on the appropriate governance and public accounting frameworks for this department.”

Augustine said the initiative is expected to create 150 additional permanent jobs when fully implemented.

He also said efforts are underway to provide public lands for a new correctional facility on the island.

“We will give agreed-upon acreage to national security at no cost so that a proper facility can be built.”

Saying he recently visited the Tobago prisons at Scarborough, and the following day a decision was taken to remove all of the inmates and take them to Trinidad.

“Not a single word was said to the affected families. Most likely, that was a security decision.”

He said given the state of the facility at Scarborough, the THA intends to send a team from the Division of Infrastructure to do some upgraded works so that the non-violent inmates can be returned to the island.

Augustine said there is a social cost to not having prisoners rehabilitated in Tobago.

“Have we counted the cost to families? Have we considered the cost of having our Tobago sons and daughters and youths indoctrinated into more serious criminality?”

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