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Archbishop ‘spot on’

By Clint Chan Tack Tuesday, April 22 2014

ROMAN Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris is “spot on” about the break down of values in the country and how this can contribute to the country’s crime problem.

In making this observation about comments made by the Archbishop at a mass at the Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in San Fernando on Saturday, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said Harris’ comments were in no way a condemnation of actions being taken by the Government to deal with crime.

In delivering the homily at Saturday’s mass, Harris said: “We seek transformation of our society but we are like those thirsty persons who seek water in cracked cisterns that provide no water. Capital punishment and new crime plans are like those cracked cisterns, they do not provide living water which facilitates new life.”

Griffith described the way in which Harris’ statements were reported as giving the impression that he was criticising the Government about how it was addressing the country’s crime problem. “Nothing could be further from the truth. This is not even remotely close to it,” he said.

Griffith said since he was appointed National Security Minister last September, he has moved away from a previous approach where the focus was on crime plans. “We do not have crime plans,” Griffith said. He reiterated Government chooses to focus on creating and implementing effective national security policies.

Stating the mandate of his ministry is to deal with primary crime prevention, Griffith said the data shows that under the People’s Partnership, serious crimes have decreased by 35 percent. While more work needs to be done to further reduce crime, Griffith said what Harris was speaking about was “secondary crime prevention.”

Stating this was not an area his ministry deals with, Griffith explained secondary crime prevention deals with “the importance of the social aspects of the society.” Griffith said Government is aware of the need to address the concerns which Harris raised.

He said even if one million police officers were put out on the beat, they would be “of no use” in dealing with crimes committed by persons in a household against one another. Griffith added that through secondary crime prevention strategies, other government ministries are trying to re-instil social and moral values in communities and help turn people away from a life of crime.

Commenting on the disruption of a political meeting held in Barataria last week by United National Congress (UNC) activist Barrington “Skippy” Thomas by persons alleged to be UNC supporters, Griffith declared: “That is the first and the last time that something like that happens on my watch.”

He said it was unfortunate a report yesterday inferred he and Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams had opposing views about policing at political meetings.

Stating this was not the case, Griffith said: “A political meeting is not a private event.” Griffith explained once a meeting is described as a political meeting, “it is open to the public” and the police always provide security for such events.

Griffith said while he has no information regarding investigations into that incident, he commended the police for their swift action in ensuring that situation did not get out of control. He vowed to ensure citizens will be able to attend any political meeting in the country without being afraid of the threat of violence and intimidation.

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