Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson’s 2019 police plan calls for a more aggressive approach to tackling sexual offenses.
National Security Minister Marvin Dames tabled the plan in the House of Assembly yesterday.
“In 2018, I prioritized six key areas necessary to garner more meaningful and sustainable results for safety and security,” Ferguson said in the foreword of the document.
“With the keen knowledge that crime is fluid, I remain committed to last year’s priority areas.
“However, I felt it necessary to expand and prioritize sexual exploitation and abuse.
“While the police force has always viewed such criminal acts as sensitive matters, prioritizing these areas garner a more national platform in which all stakeholders can collectively strive to generate awareness and reduce or eliminate such incidences.”
As it relates to the reduction of sex crimes, Ferguson’s plan noted that the force will support and empower at-risk, vulnerable and marginalized people and victims of sexual exploitation and abuse to minimize the risk and reduce victimization ensuring public safety.
In order to do this, the police force will develop a “victim focused” approach in all Bahamian communities and institutions of learning; develop more responsive methods to meet the needs of all persons who may become victims or potential victims of sexual exploitation; work with other law enforcement agencies and the community to strengthen awareness and prevention; strengthen officers’ knowledge and skill on sexually related crimes through intentional and ongoing training and employ appropriate technology and forensic science capabilities to solve such cases more expediently.
The more aggressive approach to tackling sexual offenses comes as police reported a rise in reported rapes in 2018.
Police recorded 55 incidents of rape last year, compared to 52 in 2017, an increase of six percent.
The plan also noted that road safety is a major concern, especially considering the record increase in traffic fatalities last year.
Plans to beef up road safety include using close circuit television (CCTV) to monitor major intersections as well as introducing new speed detection technology, including a speed gun to enforce speed limits.
Technology will also play a huge part in tackling crime this year, according to the report, which gives timelines for previously announced initiatives.
The plan states that body cameras will be acquired this year. A digital media department will also be created to issue crime information on social media.
“The seven priority areas in this year’s policing plan encapsulate the changes necessary to promote safer communities,” Ferguson said.
“Through effective leadership, diversity and aided modern technologies underpinned with policing values, the police force will be able to deliver upon its commitments to our communities.
“For the first time in more than eight years, The Bahamas experienced an overall crime reduction of eight percent with respect to crimes against person and crimes against property, respectively.
“Accordingly, this year’s plan will continue to incorporate the current modus operandi underway thereby ensuring that the police force is future oriented and competently able to operate effectively in an an extremely challenging, diverse and dynamic safety and security environment.
“Future oriented initiatives will focus on the capabilities of human capital, processes, and technologies, all of which will help shape the delivery of effective policing services for a safer and more productive Bahamas.”
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications