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IDB: TT loses 3.52% GDP to crime

Melissa Doughty Friday, May 19 2017

THE Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) latest study entitled, ‘Restoring Paradise in the Caribbean, Combating Violence with Numbers’, says this country loses between 2.68 percent and 3.52 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to crime.

The study, which looked at crime throughout the region, in its specific references to Trinidad and Tobago said, “Trinidad loses between 2.26 percent (lower bound) and 3.56 percent (upper bound) of GDP to crime annually. Out of 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries, Trinidad and Tobago ranks sixth for annual costs of crime as a proportion of GDP.” A press release said findings were based on the results of new crime victimization surveys carried out in The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. It said 3,000 individuals were interviewed in each of the five countries.

“With almost half of all crimes going unreported to the police, these victimization surveys provide a fuller picture of the prevalence of crime and its unique characteristics when compared to other regions,” it added.

The study also found that, “ [TT’s] Government expenditure is between 1.04 percent and 1.68 percent of GDP, which is above the average for the 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries.” The 311-page document said since 2006, the IDB had invested more than $25 million in financing to the Government to, “study, prevent, and reduce-crime and violence in Trinidad and Tobago.” The study said the country spent 1.23 percent of the GDP in the police force, which, “is above the average for 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries.” It added that violent crime was uniquely high, nearly one in three of the surveyed respondents reported having lost someone close to violence in their lifetime, the victims of assault were predominantly young, low-income males and the victims of violent crime were concentrated in certain areas, i.e , “living in a neighborhood with high physical disorder (graffiti, trash and abandoned buildings), low social cohesion (trust among neighbors) and a gang presence were all strongly associated with being a victim of violent crime.” It said the country spent less on the administration of justice for criminal cases, than on the police and prisons. “It is amongst the countries with the lowest expenditure on criminal justice of 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Insufficient access to or trust in legal services creates fertile ground for extra-judicial and vigilante violence. Limited institutional capacity and case processing are exacerbated by low use of alternative and non-litigation mechanisms,” it

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