Minister of National Security Stuart Young leaves the press conference held to provide an update on national security issues at Temple Court, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday.

National Security Minister Stuart Young says he has received a report advising him whether the Government should legalise the use of pepper spray by women for their personal protection.

Speaking at a press conference at the National Security Ministry headquarters in Port of Spain yesterday, Young said the Government cannot act on whims, “vaps” or emotions in making this decision.

At a press conference in December 2020, days after teenager Ashanti Riley was brutally murdered, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said he intended to approach Young to request women be allowed to carry pepper spray.

Yesterday, Young said he had requested a report from specialists and he has now received it.

“What I requested from specialists was a report and a suggestion with respect to policy and a comparison of what takes place in other jurisdictions and I have finally gotten that report will be discussed and the National Security Council will then take a decision,” Young said.

However, he said this decision is not that will be taken lightly and he could not say when the decision might be made.

“It is not a very simple decision, there are a lot of for and against, arguments, etc and I am not going to pin any timeline on it.”

However, Young said pepper spray would not a ‘miracle’ fix to the dangers women, girls and vulnerable men face in society.

He said crime and criminality are issues that plague societies all around the world.

Young referenced the murder of a 50-year-old bank employee, Andrea Lowe-Garwood, who was shot and killed while worshipping at a church in Trelawny, Jamaica on Sunday morning by a lone gunman.

“There is no magic wand, there is no silver wand, there is nothing you can say give women or vulnerable men or vulnerable people in our society this, including a firearm, and they will be able to protect themselves. I don’t know if pepper spray is or is not, it’s certainly not the magic wand solution, it certainly is one tool that can be used to but I am not going to prejudge anything or get drawn into that,” Young said.

Commenting on the kidnapping of Andrea Bharatt, who has now been missing for five days, Young advised citizens to be very careful as he said there are many ‘sick’ people in T&T’s society.

“I find it very disheartening and upsetting to see our young women being subjected to this type of criminal activity and behaviour and I wish there was some easy fix and some easy to protect all of our young women in our society.”

He said he was hopeful there will be a positive outcome in Bharatt’s kidnapping and he has been in constant communication with the T&T Police Service.

Young said he had requested that the T&T Defence Force assist police in their search for Bharatt.