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Us Warning Over Islands’ Crime Rate

By Khrisna Virgil

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

THE United States Department of State has assessed New Providence and classified it as being a “critical” threat location for crime either directed at or affecting official US government interests, citing among other things that areas of Nassau referred to as “Over-the-Hill” should be avoided.

According to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Bahamas 2017 Crime and Safety Report, despite 2016 experiencing a 26 per cent drop in serious crimes and 24 per cent fewer murders than 2015’s record high, New Providence has witnessed violent crimes in locations more commonly frequented by US tourists.

In some instances, these incidents resulted in fatalities, the report said. There were 111 murders in 2016 and 146 murders in 2015.

The report noted criminality and violent crime has increased in Grand Bahama, notably crimes involving the use of machetes.

“Many criminals carry firearms, machetes, or knives, and these weapons are commonly brandished,” the report said.

“Gangs are present. There has been targeted gang-related violence, including a drive-by shooting that resulted in one death and two injuries next to Embassy-owned residential properties.

“Home invasions, theft, and robbery are not confined to a specific part of the island. The upsurge in criminal activity has led to incidents that could place innocent bystanders at risk. The US Embassy has received reports of assaults, including sexual assaults, at residences, hotel rooms, casinos, outside hotels, and on cruise ships. In some sexual assault incidents, the victim reportedly had been drugged. The embassy issued several security messages for US citizens in 2016,” the report also said.

Other areas of concern include The Sand Trap and inner-city communities referred to as “Over-the-Hill”.

“In November 2016, the US Embassy placed The Sand Trap venue off-limits to Chief of Mission personnel following a gang-related murder. The Sand Trap is on the north side of West Bay Street at the intersection of West Bay Street and Saint Alban’s Drive.

“Areas of Nassau referred to as ‘Over-the-Hill’ by locals should be avoided after sunset unless you are intimately familiar with the areas. This is generally south of the downtown Nassau area, south of Shirley Street. These areas are not clearly defined but encompass many lower income areas on New Providence. Visitors should avoid these areas, especially at night.”

Road safety and road conditions are also noted in the report. “Reckless” driving practices and motorists disobeying road rules are mentioned as areas of concern.

“Vehicular traffic comes from the opposite to what one would expect in the US, tourists have been struck by cars after failing to check properly for oncoming traffic.

“Traffic circles are a common feature, and traffic in the circles has the right-of-way. Traffic congestion in Nassau is prevalent, and drivers occasionally display antagonistic tendencies and sometimes drive recklessly, passing on the right into oncoming traffic. Many motorists disobey stop signs, speed limits, and traffic signals.

“Police enforcement of traffic laws has increased in 2016 but is still considered minimal, and visitors should exercise extreme caution. While it is against the law, drinking and driving is common. The legal ban is infrequently enforced, resulting in numerous traffic accidents and fatalities, including some involving tourists and motor scooters.

“Traffic accidents pose a safety hazard in some parts of the Bahamas, primarily due to intolerant drivers speeding and driving recklessly on two-way, two-lane roads not designed for high-speed travel and, in some cases, in need of maintenance.”

Police response

Generally, the report said the Royal Bahamas Police Force is receptive to reports of crime and takes threats of crimes against tourists seriously.

“However, the police response can be reduced by a lack of resources or by the physical constraints imposed by geography, infrastructure, and traffic.

“Police have limited emergency vehicles, and streets and houses are generally unmarked, inhibiting responders from locating affected residences. To ensure quick response to a residence, victims may have to go to the local police station and provide transportation to the site.”

The report also listed Nassau as being a “low threat” location for terrorist activity and the same classification was given for political, economic, religious and ethnic violence directed at or affecting official US government interests.

The report was released in March.

Comments

MassExodus 2 years, 8 months ago

All extremely accurate statements by the US. I personally take these precautions being a Bahamian. I have also been robbed several times over the last 2 years. We have a serious problem that will continue to get worse, unless we figure out a way to address it. Government really needs to think outside the box, and implore drastic measures to reduce crime.

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killemwitdakno 2 years, 8 months ago

This is what happens when you show floating bodies by Bay on FB.

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DDK 2 years, 8 months ago

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN CRIME IS OUT OF CONTROL!

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stoner 2 years, 8 months ago

A body is a dead body.Don't you get the ^%$#@(&%% message.Someone died and in more likelihood than not was murdered.A dead body is someone's son,daughter,father or mother or a relative of someone.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

Bahamians who have taken to putting gross crime photos on the internet for the US law enforcement to see almost on a daily basis ........ that is the problem ........ Very little major crime affects the tourists ......... How many tourists have been murdered in Nassau in the past 5 years????

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DDK 2 years, 8 months ago

A U.S. tourist was just shot during a break-in to the residence he and his family had rented in Providenciales, our near neighbour. It could well have been Nassau or one of the Family Islands. I think the contents of the report are accurate. Denial is not the answer. Posting sick photos on the internet has become a sick way of life, no doubt about it. Crime is out of control and needs to be reined in now. The same attitude towards major crime is that applied to petty crime like littering, shop lifting and ignoring road rules. At some time we have to grow as a people. That includes people who have moved into the Bahamas, many illegally, and now call these Islands home.

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MassExodus 2 years, 8 months ago

I definitely disagree with you sheeprunner. The internet is a way of life, and it gets reported the same way everywhere else. While the violent crime hasn't escalated towards tourists, break-ins, and thefts most definitely have. Crime on a whole is out of control. The jetski guys raping tourist women is only one level less than murder in my books. I think it is great the US continues to put pressure on our government to address the crime problem, because it needs a more comprehensive plan than what is now in place.

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stoner 2 years, 8 months ago

One murder is too many regardless of who they are locals or tourists. Crime is a crime and murder is a murder.Don't you get the message.

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Gotoutintime 2 years, 8 months ago

The article is factual in all respects---Regretfully the Bahamas has become a haven for criminals. They couldn't show floating bodies if there were none to show---When the tourist stop coming we will know the reason why!!

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Honestman 2 years, 8 months ago

Add to this the fact that The Bahamas is the eighth most expensive place in the world to live and you wonder why anyone would want to come here at all!

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DDK 2 years, 8 months ago

Give it time, we're working on it!

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mdaniel2 2 years, 8 months ago

What about the crime rate in the US? They concerned about that?

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TalRussell 2 years, 8 months ago

Comrades! It's a delayed reality coming back to bite Minnis and his renegade red shirts. Who can forget how the then official red shirts rebels opposition went publicly before the US media to lend their support for Cuban exile activist Ramón Saúl Sánchez, leader of the Cuban Democracy Movement's call for a BOYCOTT the Bahamalans.... who had since been ordered by the Obama administration to leave the USA. Can you imagine what the reaction of the world's media would have been like - had a bunch former red MP's and Senators joined in a 'flotilla' sailing towards the Bahamaland from Miami? { No need make this stuff up }.
Comrades, this is no longer the' Free Enterprise' red party of Papa Hubert and Cecil Wallace-Whitfield!

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 8 months ago

Wait five years and re-elect the PLP - then get sick of them and re-elect the FNM again in 2027. That is the extent of our creativity to solve problems as a people.

At the same time, make sure the delivery room at PMH is running full speed 24/7. Drive up them apartment rent prices.

We are doomed.

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Porcupine 2 years, 8 months ago

Even most Bahamians don't feel safe in Nassau. True freedom is gone. The Family Islands are the last bastion of decent living. What we worry about here is how quickly the city people will bring their bad habits with them. It is already happening. Family Island police are too laid back and corrupt to take charge. This crime epidemic will do us all in. Even if the criminals don't take our life, they will take our livelihood. Isn't it happening now, right before our eyes?

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

You really have a low level of respect for Family Islanders' work ethic and productivity........ recheck your thinking, my friend

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Porcupine 2 years, 8 months ago

I said the police. Reread please. And, I stand by my statement.

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MassExodus 2 years, 8 months ago

Yup! I definitely agree with you, as I have lived several years in Exuma and Abaco. Crime is definitely on the rise in Abaco big time, and it is because there are a lot of Nassauvians coming over to Abaco. At this point it is mostly over women or petty drugs, and small break-ins, but it is increasing in frequency. In terms of crime being posted the internet is a way of life, and it gets reported the same way everywhere else. While the violent crime hasn't escalated towards tourists, break-ins, and thefts most definitely have. Crime on a whole is out of control. The jetski guys raping tourist women is only one level less than murder in my books. I think it is great the US continues to put pressure on our government to address the crime problem, because it needs a more comprehensive plan than what is now in place.

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John 2 years, 8 months ago

You would expect that rather than just sending out advisories on the crime situation in The Bahamas, the US would offer advice and maybe even assistance in tackling the crime problem. But many Bahamians are leaving New Province and going back to The Family Islands. Many cannot understand the unacceptable crime problem in the capital, especially murder. Of course much of the crime is driven by unemployment and other economic conditions. The question now is how to fix it.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

Two thirds of people who live in New Providence ....... and 90% of Grand Bahamians ............ have their roots in other Family Islands ....... The solution is rather simple, but we seem unable to face the reality that without immediate Family Island Development, we are doomed

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John 2 years, 8 months ago

The fact is there is still family structure on the Family Islands and true community life. If one is not working on the family islands you can at least manage to scrap a meal or do some odd jobs around the community to survive. In Nassau even people who are working are struggling to make ends meet so in most instances someone asking for a hand out is seen as a nuisance, an unaffordable expense. Some people believe they are more successful turning to crime than looking for charity. Then there are career criminals and generation criminals. They came from parents that were drug dealers and never had a legitimate job and so they are on that same road.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 8 months ago

There a lot of drug dealers on the Family Islands as well ...... smh ...... Just look at the names and faces brought forward to the Nassau courts

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DillyTree 2 years, 8 months ago

While there's no question that crime is out of control in New Providence, the US needs to make note that their claim of "traffic accidents pose a safety hazard in some parts of the Bahamas, primarily due to intolerant drivers speeding and driving recklessly on two-way, two-lane roads not designed for high-speed travel and, in some cases, in need of maintenance.”

They do not add that several serious accidents in the out islands were caused by their own US nationals not bothering to drive on the left! And when questioned by police after the accident, claimed to not realized they weren't in the US and that they figured we drove on the right too. Maybe a bit drunk too? Or just arrogance?

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TalRussell 2 years, 8 months ago

Comrades! The Red Cabinet should do away with allowing tourists and visitors to the Bahamaland to drive any form of motorized vehicles. We also should completely do away with the renting of vehicles, including renting to locals. An immediate restriction should also be placed on importing gas powered vehicles.

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TalRussell 2 years, 8 months ago

Comrade Gotoutintime, As far as I am aware there is not a single car rental agency on the island of Bermuda. The last time I visited there were no car rentals anywhere on the island. Car rentals are not allowed by the Bermuda Government. Not only are tourists not allowed rent cars but neither can the locals. Bermuda also has a very clean and efficient bus service and the taxis are also well operated.

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Gotoutintime 2 years, 8 months ago

Tal--If we had made the changes you have so rightly suggested 50 years ago it could have worked---Now, it's much too late I'm afraid!

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FreeportFreddy 2 years, 8 months ago

Not advised as many experienced tourists prefer to rent a car in order to have mobility and, most importantly, to experience the sights and people outside of the 'tourist areas' which are serviced by the taxis and buses.

This is a strength for the Family Islands.

Banning rental cars would decrease employment and tourism as well.

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stoner 2 years, 8 months ago

I lived in Nassau in the 70's and also in 2009 and it is a major difference in crime. Two murderers a year in 1973-76 and now close to 80 a year and growing. In 1973 a murderer was hanged at For Hill prison and this capital punishment must come back.Crime is out control for such a small population. I say hang them and hang them high like it was back in the 70',otherwise crime will increase and tourist will not come. It is getting bad in Providenciales,T & C and it seems like they are all elated or from from the same stock.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 8 months ago

We should respond by reminding the U.S. that it has several cities, each with a population far exceeding the population of our entire country, where the violent crime rates are so high that vast densely populated areas have become literal war zones, e.g. Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, etc. Many Bahamians no longer feel safe while shopping in Miami these days!

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stoner 2 years, 8 months ago

USA has posted that it is not safe to go over the Hill in Nassau. This was the same in 1974 -1976 so you can only imagine what it is like to day, some fourtly- four years later. I lived there during this time and it was a cess' pool then with no running water and tarred paper shacks. Tourists were warned as well as people living and working on permits were told the same. Everyone in nassau had a dog and not an dog, but a German Shepherd or a dog trained to protect you and they lived out doors.Nassau is a very good City otherwise and a few criminals cause all the problems.Too many guns and no control over drugs. They have an attitude kill or be killed and relative or not.The majority of the people in Nassau are somewhat related in any event.

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baldbeardedbahamian 2 years, 8 months ago

in any society about 5% of the population are sociopathic. Most will not know that they are as they have never felt differently. A well trained sociopath can do very well in society, particularly in the military or police and also in politics, the ability to lie convincingly is useful in this career choice. It is fairly easy to identify the 3 sociopaths within the ranks of the PLP, can you see who they are? Just as dangerous are the sociopaths who have not been properly socialized and can kill without remorse, these are the ones who become the murders we read about in the newspapers. Parents are responsible for bringing up their children in this country but hundreds of them do not have the resources available or the education. Crime is going nowhere except up, doesn't matter which party is in power. It's sad, this used to be such a beautiful country to live in.

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