By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
STATE Minister for National Security Keith Bell and Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson championed the Christie administration’s efforts to fight crime yesterday even as the murder rate for 2015 outpaced last year’s figures.
Three years after the PLP erected billboards island-wide highlighting the rise of murders under the former Ingraham administration, Mr Bell suggested that homicides should not be the sole indicator of how bad the crime situation is.
Both he and Mrs Maynard-Gibson stressed that other serious crimes are trending downward across major categories.
However, according to The Tribune’s records, the murder count this year is 16 per cent higher compared to the same period last year. Up to press time, police had recorded 73 homicides, compared to 63 at this time in 2014.
“Each year (under the former administration) was a record year (of rises in the murder rate),” Mrs Maynard Gibson said in the Senate.
“Sixty-one in 2007, 73 in 2008, 85 in 2009, 94 in 2010 and 127 in 2011. It is important that we ask our colleagues to acknowledge their government’s role in implementing and overseeing the policies that put us in this position in the first place. It is hard to imagine the former government to now critique the cleanup job our government must now take.”
She added that as part of the government’s Swift Justice initiative, her office has greatly increased the
number of cases heard before the courts and has also increased the conviction rate in such cases.
During his Senate contribution, Mr Bell seemed to criticise those who insist that the government’s “policies have fallen short and that the sole basis upon which (its) effort should be measured is the murder rate.”
He added: “Fundamentally, the reason why the murder rate is held in such a sacrosanct position in the eyes of Bahamians is because each murder represents a family’s suffering and a community’s loss.”
“The crime statistics also clearly show that in almost every other crime category, we are stronger and that our policies are producing dividends,” he added. “Where then do we go from here? We must be strong in the face of this challenge and unrelenting in our efforts to take our country back.
“Under the former administration, every year they recorded record increases in crime. When we came to office, the overall crimes against the person, against the property decreased by some four per cent, last year it was some 18 per cent and this current figure, overall crime, is decreasing by six per cent.”
“Never mind the noise in the market, police officers you have a record to be proud of. In 2014, not only did overall crimes decline by some 18 per cent, but due directly to your efforts, 400 illegal guns were taken off the streets along with 7,545 illegal rounds of ammunition – do you know how many lives were saved by your efforts?”
National Security Minister Dr Bernard Nottage has come under fire from the Official Opposition for not addressing the country on crime and related policies during the Budget debate in the House of Assembly.