By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
LAST year was a “terrible and disgraceful” one with the country experiencing record numbers of murders, rapes and armed robberies, Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade said yesterday.
While unveiling his policing plan for 2016, the commissioner said 2015 was a “very difficult year filled with crime challenges” for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF).
He said despite a four per cent decrease in serious crimes against the person compared to the same period in 2014, murder, rape, attempted rape, unlawful sexual intercourse and armed robbery all increased by 19 per cent, 16 per cent, 33 per cent, 11 per cent and five per cent respectively.
Attempted robberies decreased from 31 to 12, a change of 61 per cent, and robberies decreased by 43 per cent from 350 in 2014 to 200 in 2015, according to the crime statistics.
Mr Greenslade said the country saw an “unprecedented level of murders which peaked at 146” as compared to 123 in 2014, according to police statistics. This represents an increase of 19 per cent.
Although there were 149 homicides in 2015 according to The Tribune’s records, Mr Greenslade said some of these matters have been classified as manslaughter matters.
Of the murders committed last year, 126 - or 86 per cent - were recorded in New Providence; 17 - or 12 per cent - in Grand Bahama and three - or two per cent - in the Family Islands.
The detection rate for murders in 2015 now stands at 46 per cent or 67 murders solved.
Mr Greenslade said the detection rate for murders in 2015 is relatively low when compared to other years due to intimidation of witnesses by murder accused who are granted bail, witnesses being approached by “unscrupulous” persons who convince them to recant their statements and retaliation by associates of victims.
An illegal firearm, predominately a handgun, was the weapon of choice by murderers in 2015. In 115, or 79 per cent, of murder cases, an illegal firearm was used, followed by knives that were used in 12 or 8 per cent of the cases.
In 34 murder cases, or 23 per cent, retaliation was the motive for the crime. Twenty-six cases involved general conflict between people, 13 cases involved armed robbery, 17 were domestic and 21 involved gang and drug feuds.
Sunday was the most violent day of the year in 2015 with 25 persons being murdered followed by 24 on Friday, 23 on Saturday and Tuesday, 19 on Monday and 16 on Wednesday and Thursday.
According to the figures, police confiscated 391 illegal firearms and 8,297 rounds of assorted ammunition in 2015.
Property crimes decreased by five per cent in 2015 compared to 2014. This was influenced by decreases in housebreaking and stealing, which fell by 25 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.
Burglary, stealing from a vehicle and stolen vehicles increased by two per cent, 14 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.
The commissioner said he is of the firm belief that the “market in our local communities for stolen property is the key reason that we continue to be challenged by these types of property crimes.”
Mr Greenslade said while reductions were seen in a number of serious crimes during 2015 “crime figures are still much too high and there still remains a high level of public concern over the record number of murders.”
He said the policing priorities for 2016 will remain the prevention and detection of crime, reducing the fear of crime and removing dangerous weapons, mainly firearms, off the streets.
As part of its crime detection efforts, the RBPF will further develop and properly staff an Anti-Gang Unit; aggressively target active criminals and monitor prolific offenders; and plans to acquire a helicopter for “rapid response” to serious crimes and patrol of hotspots, the commissioner’s 2016 policing plan says.
The RBPF also plans to continue saturation patrols in areas of high crime and extend the use of CCTV to help prevent crime.