Ferguson: crime decreases not “mere coincidence”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Crime overall was down eight per cent last year compared to 2017, according to statistics released yesterday by Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson, who said the downward trend, particularly in the majority of violent crimes was “no coincidence”.
The overall decrease continues a trend observed in the last few years, although at a slower rate.
While murders increased in 2017, crime overall was down 14 per cent compared to 2016.
In 2016, police reported a 26 per cent decrease in crime overall, compared to 2015.
The statistics released yesterday also show that crimes against persons decreased 16 per cent last year, compared to the previous year.
However, incidents of rape and attempted murder rose.
During his annual ‘Meet the Press’ at police headquarters, Ferguson said that despite the good work of the police force, it will not celebrate its successes as crime remains too high throughout the nation.
Instead, the commissioner said the organization will redouble its efforts and expand initiatives that made an impact.
“While we welcome the reductions in crime, we are not satisfied with the current level of crime in our country,” Ferguson told the media.
“We will not be complacent, however, but will strive to further reduce the level and fear of crime in The Bahamas.”
As has been reported, there were 91 murders in 2018.
This represents a 25 per cent decrease over the 122 murders recorded the previous year.
The murder count last year was the lowest since 2009 when 85 murders were recorded.
According to Ferguson, police solved 61 (74 per cent) of the 91 murders recorded last year.
Authorities solved 57 per cent of the 122 murders in 2017; 53 per cent of the 111 murders in 2016 and 46.5 per cent of the record 146 murders in 2015.
The commissioner acknowledged that while the overall murder count was down last year, there was a spike in murders in the last quarter of 2018 that lowered the margin of decrease.
Illustrating this, Ferguson said murders were down 33 per cent in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
He pointed out that margin of decrease narrowed to 15 per cent in the second quarter of 2018.
By the third quarter, however, murders were down 48 per cent.
The margin significantly narrowed again in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 17 per cent, when compared to the same period in the previous year.
A closer look at murders shows 67 per cent or 61 murders were the results of retaliation or conflict; while 15 per cent (14 murders) occurred during robberies.
Another 11 per cent (10 murders) were drug-related, according to the data.
Of last year’s murders, 80 took placed on New Providence, six on Grand Bahama and five on the Family Islands.
Attempted murder increased 46 per cent, from 13 cases to 19.
This is a reversal of the trend observed in 2017 where attempted murders dropped by 50 per cent over the previous year.
According to the statistics released yesterday, attempted robbery decreased 19 per cent, from 16 to 13 cases.
Attempted rape remained unchanged with 11 cases.
Armed robbery also dropped by 18 per cent, from 575 cases to 474 cases.
Manslaughter fell from one in 2017 to zero last year.
Meanwhile, robbery fell six per cent, from 115 cases to 108.
Unlawful sexual intercourse dropped 23 per cent, from 146 cases in 2017 to 113 cases last year.
Crimes against property also decreased by six per cent.
With the exception of stealing from vehicles, burglary and housebreaking, every category of these types of crime fell by double digits.
Stealing from vehicles increased 16 per cent.
Burglary rose marginally, from 137 cases in 2017 to 138 cases last year; and housebreakings remained relatively unchanged, increasing from 875 cases to 879 cases — a less than one per cent increase.
Shop-breaking dropped 23 per cent; stealing fell 20 per cent and stolen vehicle decrease 19 per cent.
The commissioner attributed the results last year to a culmination of efforts by authorities.
He said his organization conducted an analysis of crime last year and determined what adjustments were needed to the approach in policing the country.
He said it was recognized that there was a shortage of operational manpower and the police force partnered with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to “attack the criminal element from all angles”.
He also said intelligence-led operations were expanded.
“We are indeed encouraged by the noted reductions in murder and other
crime, [but] I want you to know that the reductions did not happen by mere coincidence, but as a result of analyzing trends, re-focusing policing operations, and developing valuable intelligence,” said.
The data also reflects that 80 per cent of the crimes against person and crimes against property – 3,993 of the 4,954 reported incidents — occurred on New Providence.
On Grand Bahama, crimes against persons dropped 20 percent.
However, crimes against property on that island rose two per cent.
Overall, reported crimes on the island remained relatively unchanged, despite decreases in murders, rape, unlawful sexual assault and robbery.
Reported crimes in the Family Island fell overall by 30 per cent.
This was largely attributed to the 32 per cent decrease in crimes against property, the data shows.
For example, stealing from vehicles was down 49 per cent on the Family Islands, from 71 in 2017 to 36 in 2018.
Murders also decreased on the Family Islands, from seven to five — a 29 per cent decrease.
When asked what attributed to the decrease in crime overall in the Family Islands, Ferguson indicated that the residents on those communities played a key part.
The commissioner also advised he was finalizing his policing place for 2019, but said it will remain relatively unchanged as the previous plan “is still relevant, it works, and it is yielding desired result and more”.
He said once completed, the plan will be submitted to Minister of National Security Marvin Dames, who is expected to table it in Parliament.
He did not commit to a timeframe, however.