An odd time for an intervention
Between 2007 and 2017 there were five murder records in The Bahamas. The worst year was 2015 when 146 people were murdered.
The Bahamas has a population of around 390,000. In 2015, our homicide rate was 39.1 per 100,000. The international standard countries should be at or under is five per 100,000.
Bahamians were stunned that 78 people could be murdered in their commonwealth when we started on this bloody journey. That was in 2007. Now we sadly expect at least 100 murders per year.
There were many killings again in 2017. Unofficially, this newspaper counted 123 murders last year. That’s a high number.
Something interesting started to happen at the end of the year, however.
By our data, murders decreased by 62 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 when compared to the same period in 2016. There was one murder in November 2017, for example, as compared to 13 in November 2016.
The trend continued into 2018. As of the writing of this piece, there were no murders recorded in New Providence for 2018 that happened in 2018. And New Providence is the place where most of the killings take place. (One man died in hospital on Sunday in New Providence who was shot on December 30.)
It is unclear what is causing the decrease, or if it is sustainable. We hope it is part of a long-term trend, but know violence could erupt at any moment.
With this positive trend emerging, it was odd yesterday for Leader of the Opposition Philip Brave Davis to bring up crime during his news conference with the media. His Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) was just in power. It led during the five-year political period when there were the most murders in our history.
“They boasted that they had the answer to crime,” said Davis at the PLP’s headquarters regarding the now governing Free National Movement (FNM).
“But so far we have seen nothing different happening today than when they accused the PLP of fostering crime. What concerns me more than anything else is the hypocrisy of all of this government.”
The opposition leader also suggested there could be some correlation between the disbandment of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) by the Minnis administration and an increase in certain categories of crime.
It is unclear what increase he is talking about, as the crime stats haven’t come out yet. The commissioner of police is scheduled to release the data today.
It is also unclear what work the NIA – which was shrouded in secrecy – did that contributed to crime reduction.
Nonetheless, we all agree that there is too much crime in The Bahamas. There are too many shootings, robberies and thefts. But now, for the first time in a decade, a positive is emerging.
Is this the best time for a PLP, which failed on crime, to criticize a new FNM team that is leading during a downward trend in murders?
This PLP is shell shocked. The May 10 election devastation left the party disorientated. It lost by 20 percentage points; its leader lost his seat; the people elected four PLPs to 35 FNMs.
It will take time for Bahamians to get over the abysmal final Perry Christie term. Those who followed him and did not speak up while he made a mess of the party and country should accept the sentence the people put on them. These PLPs knew Christie was a disaster, but out of fear and self-interest they let him make a mockery of himself and harm our country.
It is the FNM’s time to govern. The people put the party there. The PLP’s role is to be opposition. It should use its voice for reasonable intervention. On crime, be encouraging. We know the PLP has no solutions. We remember 2012 to 2017. If this administration has successes, commend it and ask it to do more of what it’s doing.
The PLP can’t score points when it comes to crime. The opposition party has nearly no credibility on the issue.
Yesterday’s intervention by the opposition leader was an odd time to bring up crime. The PLP should stick with analysis of other issues, for now.