Dorian “changed the entire landscape” of crime trends, policing strategy
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Crime overall declined seven percent last year compared to 2018, according to data released yesterday by Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson, though certain categories of violent crime, namely murders, manslaughter and armed robbery increased marginally.
The overall decrease is on par with the eight percent decline in crime overall in 2018.
Crime against property overall dropped nine percent last year.
However, crimes against person increased one percent.
This was largely attributed to the increase in murders and armed robberies and manslaughter.
Last year, ended with 95 murders, a four percent increase over the 91 murders in 2018.
According to the data, the increase in murders last year was as a result of four additional murders in Grand Bahama compared to 2018. Murders in New Providence and the Family Islands remain unchanged at 80 and five respectively.
The murder count in 2018 was the lowest recorded since 2009 when there were 85 murders.
“…We remain encouraged that for the second consecutive year murders remain n under 100,” said Ferguson, during his meet the press at the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s headquarters on East Street.
“This does not mean that we should become complacent, we will instead be more vigilant in our efforts to further reduce the crime.”
Of the 95 killings last year, 80 took place in New Providence; 10 in Grand Bahama; two in Abaco; two in Bimini and one in Eleuthera.
Attempted murder remained unchanged with 19 incidents.
Manslaughter increased from zero in 2018 to two in 2019.
Rape fell by 33 percent year-on-year — from 55 in 2018 to 37 in 2019.
Attempted rape also dropped from 11 to 7, representing a 36 percent decrease.
Unlawful sexual intercourse also declined by 14 percent — from 113 to 97.
Armed robbery; however, increased 12 percent — from 474 matters in 2018 to 531 matters in 2019.
Crime reports were inundated with armed robberies, particularly in the latter half of 2019, though authorities suggested at the time, that the spate of incidents was not representative of an increase.
Robbery dropped from 108 cases in 2018 to 95 cases in 2019 — a 12 percent drop.
Meanwhile attempted armed robbery remained unchanged with 13 cases.
Crimes against property dropped nine percent overall.
With the exception of stealing, which increased 12 percent (from 831 cases in 2018 to 933 cases in 2019), all categories of crimes against property declined significantly.
Burglary dropped from 138 cases to 113 — an 18 percent decline; housebreaking declined from 879 cases to 684 — a 22 percent drop; shop breaking fell marginally from 539 matters to 495 — an eight percent decline and stolen vehicles declined from 375 incidents in 2018 to 283 in 2019 — a 25 percent decrease.
Reported crimes in Grand Bahama fell six percent overall.
This was largely attributed to a 15 percent decline in crimes against property.
Crimes against person on the island increased 36 percent. Murders rose from six in 2018 to 10 in 2019 — a 67 percent increase.
Crime on the Family Islands overall declined eight percent.
Dorian “changed landscape”
Providing a breakdown of the trend of murders, armed robberies, and rapes quarter-by-quarter, the commissioner outlined the impact Hurricane Dorian had on the resources of his organization, and the net effect in had on crime in New Providence as a result of stretching resources in response to the storm and its aftermath.
In the first quarter of 2019, there were 19 murders.
This represents a 27 percent drop in murders over the 26 recorded in the first quarter of 2018.
Similarly, rapes dropped 50 percent in quarter over quarter — from 18 between January and March 2018 to nine in the same period last year.
Armed robberies declined by 16 percent in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period the previous year — from 104 to 87.
Authorities observed a continued decline in those categories in the second quarters of 2019, though at a slower pace.
Murders in the second quarter of 2019 dropped seven percent over the same period in 2018 — from 28 to 26. A comparison of the Q2 in 2018 and Q2 in 2019, showed rapes dropped from 20 to 11, a decline of 45 percent quarter of quarter, while armed robberies further declined by four percent — from 128 in the second quarter of 2018 to 123 in the second quarter.
However, there was a reversal of this trend beginning in September and October, which substantially impacted the third quarter of last year.
While he did not provide specific figures, Ferguson underscored that murders rose by 100 percent and armed robberies increased 51 percent. Rape continued to decline during the third quarter of last year by 18 percent.
There were 15 murders last September alone and 62 armed robberies. In October 2019, there were 10 murders and 78 armed robberies. The two months accounted for 26 percent of the total murder count for the year and 29 percent of the total number of armed robberies last year.
Dorian decimated the northwest islands of Abaco and Grand Bahamas on September 1-3, killing at least 71 people and impacting an estimated 30,000.
Hundreds remain missing.
Ferguson said the storm forced the police force to adjust their policing strategies and officers were immediately deployed to Abaco to police the island, and to relive officers stationed.
Those officers — 400 of them — were deployed on rotation, requiring weekly boats and flights.
Seventy-five officers remain on the island.
“This of course changed the entire landscape of what we thought was a well-planned strategy for 2019,” the commissioner said.
“…While our attention was focused on Abaco and surrounding cays, a handful of criminals wreaked havoc in New Providence.”
In response, the commissioner said a 24-hour operational team was implemented, which “was able to stabilize crime in New Providence”.
As a result, 1,290 persons were arrested for crime ranging from murder, attempted murder armed robbery, drugs and unlicensed firearms.
By the fourth quarter of last year, murders had declined 31 percent over the same period in 2018.
Additionally, there was a 33 percent drop in rapes and a nine percent decline in armed robbery.
The commissioner advised yesterday that he was finalizing his policing plan for 2020.
Once completed, Ferguson said it will be submitted to the substantive minister, who will table it in Parliament.