PM: We are safer

PM: We are safer
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis (file photo)

Law enforcement will be “relentless in preventing and fighting crime”


During an address to the nation last night, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis declared that after many years of increasing crime rates, Bahamian neighbourhoods are “getting safer and more secure”.

“We are safer and more secure because of our comprehensive approach to policing, but we still have plenty work to do,” he said.

“We have a long way to go, but we are making strides in the fight against crime.

“There have been reductions in serious crimes like murder, armed robbery and shopbreaking.

Crime overall was down eight per cent last year compared to 2017, according to statistics released by the police force.

The overall decrease continued 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.

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.

Minnis also pointed out that armed robberies dropped by 18 per cent and unlawful sexual intercourse dropped 23 per cent.

Shopbreaking decrease 23 per cent; stealing fell 20 per cent and stolen vehicles dropped by 19 per cent.

However, rape increased six per cent; attempted murder increased 46 per cent and stealing from vehicles increased 16 per cent.

Last night, the prime minister acknowledged “more must be done”.

Referring to the manpower audit conducted by the Ministry of National Security, Minnis said the findings enabled the police force to place more officers on the frontline, a key strategy in combatting crime.

He said 130 new recruits are to join the police force this year to join the fight against crime: 100 for New Providence and 30 Grand Bahama.

According to Minnis, law enforcement will continue to be “relentless in preventing and fighting crime”.

“We will be relentless in tracking down those who do us harm,” he said.

The prime minister also underscored the retraining of 1,123 officers and the establishment of 92 neighbourhood watch groups — 80 in New Providence and 12 in Grand Bahama — as he provided an overview of the government’s effort to address crime since assuming office.

He insisted that every instrument at the government’s disposal must be used to create a safer Bahamas.

A key part of this includes the use modern technology, the prime minister said.

To this end, Minnis reaffirmed the government’s commitment to installing an additional 507 closed-circuit television cameras in New Providence this year, bringing the contingent up to over 700 CCTV cameras.

The government signed a $1.9 million contract with ShotSpotter Technology to provide 92 sensors which will have an ability to trace gunshots and as a result, lower the response times of law enforcement officers to gunfire.

Minnis also said a national drone program is also being developed and will launch in New Providence sometime this year.

“This program will also assist with border control and other areas of national security,” he said.

“We are also reviewing other crime-fighting technologies such as body cams and dashcams for law enforcement officers.

The Ministry of National Security issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the camera systems last month.

The deadline to submit proposals was yesterday.


Drone technology

As it relates to illegal migration, Minnis said land-based radar technology to be established in Inagua will better protect The Bahamas’ borders.

He said the multi-layered security strategy will include drones and vessels with enhanced interception capabilities by decentration

“We will enhance our interception capabilities by decentralizing the dispatch of vessels in the southern Bahamas,” he added.

“We will expand base facilities to accommodate drone deployment

“We are also improving our operational guidance capacity by engaging regional intelligence networks inclusive of The United States, the Republic of Cuba and the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

A November 2018 requests for proposals provided for the purchase of 55 drones to patrol The Bahamas’ air space to be in use by March.

In January, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said 20 companies bid to provide drone surveillance for the police force, and in the next several weeks the government would narrow the bidders down to one or two companies.