By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
OVERALL crime in the country declined by four percent between the months of January to June compared with the same period in 2019, according to Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle.
According to Commissioner Rolle, the police statistics show a considerable decrease in murders, armed robberies, sexual offences and domestic violence in the country compared with last year’s figures during that same period.
The figures were detailed in the RBPF’s mid-year report released at the Paul Farquharson Conference Centre at police headquarters yesterday.
“Thus far, the year has been distinct compared to previous years in every aspect,” he said. “The first quarter of the year started normal. However, by mid-March a worldwide occurrence took place as the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Bahamian borders. Drastic measures were subsequently put into effect to sustain the country and help to save lives.”
Despite the changes brought on by the global pandemic, the police chief said the RBPF remained committed to its mandate to protect the Bahamian people. Revealing the country’s murder statistics yesterday, Commissioner Rolle said homicides stood at 36, showing a 22 percent decrease compared with 2019, when 45 murders were reported up to the end of June.
New Providence recorded 25 murders, Grand Bahama eight and the Family Islands recorded three. Police believe conflict was the source for 24 percent of the killings.
The Commissioner also noted the detection rates for these crimes is 84 percent, which he partially attributed to public partnerships.
“Thirty-one of the 36 murder cases have been solved which yields a detection rate of 84 percent,” he said. “This detection rate can be partially attributed to public partnerships. A number of the murder incidents surround illegal activities of local gangs, including Crack Nation, Mad Ass, One Order and Baby South.
“Some of the illegal activities involves the selling of illicit drugs and illegal firearms.”
As it relates to armed robberies, the commissioner said crimes in this category have decreased by 34 percent. There were 141 armed robberies reported to police compared to 215 last year for the same period.
“Armed robberies occurred mostly in between the hours of 8pm and 10pm daily,” he said. “Most of the armed robberies occurred on the streets of residences, parking lots and businesses following close behind. Firearms continue to be a weapon of choice for armed robbers.”
For sexual offences, the Commissioner said the RBPF’s sexual offences unit had recorded 83 cases, representing a 14 percent decrease. In 2019, 96 sexual offences were recorded for the specified period.
According to the police chief, 16 people have since been placed before the courts on sexual-related charges.
“These offences include rape, unlawful sexual intercourse and attempted rape. The unit was also able to charge 16 persons in these cases and put them before the courts,” he added.
“Investigators have noted a recent trend in sexual offence cases. Young females are being targeted via social media and taken to the western area of New Providence and sexually assaulted. There were two incidents that occurred during this period. The family liaison section at the Critical Investigation Department conducted a total of 68 family meetings, 119 follow ups and 72 referrals for counselling.”
The police chief also noted a decrease in domestic matters in the country, despite government officials reporting an increase of cases since the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented.
Last month, Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell told reporters his ministry had received increased reports of domestic abuse and child abuse since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
However, yesterday, the police chief maintained that domestic matters reported to police decreased compared with the figures reported for 2019.
“Domestic matters, for the period in review, overall where domestic violence was a factor decreased by 51 percent with 1,263 incidents compared to 2019 when there were 2,576 incidents recorded.”
Asked yesterday if he thinks the figures were under-reported, the Commissioner replied: “What I gave you (are the) national crime report statistics showing that domestic matters reduced in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas by 51 percent and I stand on that. I cannot speak for nobody else.”
The Commissioner also said 54 people have been reported missing to police. The majority, he said, are young females who had been engaging in sexual intercourse.
Yesterday, the police chief touted the work of law enforcement as the source for the country’s overall decrease in crime. However, he acknowledged that the COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the government have also contributed to a slow down in crime during this period.
“Everything we said we were going to do, we did and I’m not satisfied that everybody in The Bahamas feels safe, but I’m working towards that and we have to continue,” he told reporters.
“So, if (critics) want to sit on the side and criticise these figures, they can go ahead. . .but I would encourage (them) to come and partner with us so that they can keep their neighbourhood safe.
“The numbers will take care of themselves. Now, the lockdown, I’m certain must have had some help with the numbers because a lot of those persons who would’ve been to those places where businesses were closed, that would’ve been targets.
“But when you look at the bigger picture, I think you have to give credit to these men and women that you see sitting in the front.”