The Commonwealth Secretary-General urges early and targeted action to reduce crime

15 June 2023
SG Podium Shot

Speaking at an event in Trinidad and Tobago aimed at tackling male violence, especially young men, The Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, KC, has called for societies to “act together” to reverse the tide of violence amongst men.

The Secretary General was the keynote speaker at The Violence Self & the Young Male V: Collaboration is Essential conference in Trinidad & Tobago on 14 June 2023. The event aims to promote collaboration and encourage participation from various stakeholders to reverse the tide of violence and create interventions for men aged 15-29.

The fifth staging of the event, which was coordinated by the non-governmental organisation, Lifeline, was held on the 30th anniversary of the first conference.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General noted that some of the people in the room, herself included, were also here 30 years ago for the first conference when the same issues were discussed. She hoped there would be a positive and dramatic change three decades from now and opined that it is possible if there is targeted action.

During her speech, the Secretary-General noted that during the time that she was entrusted with reform of the civil and criminal justice system and offender management in the UK from 2001-2010, crime was reduced to its lowest level since 1981. The interventions reduced first-time entrants into the criminal justice system by 21 per cent and domestic violence by 64 per cent. As a result, she said that the cost of domestic violence to the criminal justice system also fell by £7.1 billion annually.

The Secretary-General said:

“The time for change is now and I am relieved that change is possible. We have more understanding about what works and what does not. The 30 years have not been wasted and we today, if we choose, can be the arbiters of change. We have the power and the opportunity to be the change if we are prepared to act together.”

SG and Minister Pennelope Beckles

The opening ceremony for the conference was attended by high-level stakeholders from Trinidad and Tobago, including the Hon Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, Minister of Planning and Development; former First Lady and patron of Lifeline, Zalayhar Hassanali and Archbishop Jason Gordon, among other dignitaries. The audience included those working with young people to stem the tide of violence. It was also attended by young men from the Caribbean and the United States, who were among the vulnerable group.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General suggested that the interventions should include the following:

  • a coordinated, holistic and early intervention to stem the level of pain and trauma suffered by vulnerable young people;
  • adoption of the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Committees (MARAC) to tackle the issue head on
  • the crafting of a multi-disciplinary safety net including input from central and local government, business and community, faith organisations, private sector, philanthropists, and individuals; and
  • closer attention to mental health issues and easy access to support services.

It was noted that some of the issues discussed, while focussing on Trinidad and Tobago, were applicable globally.

In partnership with the UK’s National Youth Agency, the Commonwealth Secretariat will explore similar issues at the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Work Conference, being held at the University of Reading, by invitation and virtually, from 10 – 12 July 2023. The event will bring together youth workers, academics, and policymakers from across the 56 Commonwealth countries to celebrate youth work, share best practices and learn from one another.

Media contact

  • Charmaine Wright Head of Media Relations, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat

  • +44 20 7747 6242  |  E-mail