How much does crime cost? According to an IMF report released in September, “Public and private spending on policing and securities, medical expenses, judicial procedures and forgone income, is about 3.5 per cent of GDP…compared to two per cent in advanced economies.” That is approximately US$770 million.
And that is just the direct cost. Fear of crime drives emigration and capital flight. If your business has just been robbed, the chances that you will make a significant investment fall.
Almost 20 per cent of local firms cited crime as a major or severe obstacle in doing business. To protect themselves, 85 per cent of firms in TT pay for security, at the cost of around two per cent of sales. Instead of going out and boosting the economy, fear keeps people in their homes.
Indeed, the Inter-American Development Bank has demonstrated that a ten per cent reduction in crime can increase firms’ sales by four per cent. Crime constrains growth. We don’t need the IMF or the IDB to tell us this. We already see it in the deserted streets, and the worried calls if loved ones are late. “Get home safely” has replaced “Good night.” I’ve met distraught families of brave police and prisons officers; and those left behind by poor young men who lived and died by violence.