Murders in The Bahamas have declined by 21 percent as of June 11, representing 37 murders, in comparison to the same period last year when 47 murders occurred, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames said yesterday.
Dames presented statistics on major crimes during his contribution to the budget debate, insisting that the decreasing numbers show that the commissioner of police and his team have been successful in translating the government’s crime agenda into effective operational strategies.
“Mr. Speaker, the decrease in crime during the first quarter of this year has improved over the same period last year when only a one percent decrease was observed,” he said.
“The Bahamian people would recall that, for the first time in nearly a decade, the murder count in The Bahamas did not exceed the 100 mark last year.
“This was primarily as a result of a number of new and timely policy directives, combined with a clear understanding of strategic goals, followed with sound execution by law enforcement. Thus far for 2019 we are seeing a continuation of this downward trend.”
Crime was down seven percent for the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year.
Of the 37 killings, 35 were as a result of gunshot wounds.
Dames said that while the number of murders have been falling, the detection rates of these crimes have been rising, with policing having already solved 24 or 65 percent of the murders that occurred this year.
“The offense of murder remains on the minds of many Bahamians,” Dames added
“Unfortunately, misinformation on social media can often impact one’s perception of murder trends.
“Permit me, Mr. Speaker, to put the current murder trend in its proper context so that Bahamians are not misled into thinking that the vast majority of these incidents are random occurrences.
“Of the 37 murder victims so far for the year, 17 were known to police, six were on bail for various offenses including murder and four were being electronically monitored for murder.
“In other words, in most of these incidents the victim is known to the attacker.
“Nothing justifies a senseless killing, but we cannot turn a blind eye to these facts. This only reminds us that we all have a vested interest in protecting and safeguarding our young men in particular, from the scourge of crime and violence.”
The national security minister went on further in his attempts to dispel the perception of murders in the country, indicating that of the inmates presently incarcerated at the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services (BDOCS), only 22 percent are there for murder.
Dames said based on the latest numbers from BDOCS, 174 inmates are serving time for murder and another 212 are on remand awaiting trial.
Additionally, another 121 suspects are being electronically monitored for murder.
“These numbers point to the fact that some, including the police, continue to make each day – the challenges we face are not solely a police problem,” he added.
“The problem we face is a social issue of national importance.”
Police have seized 163 firearms and 1,914 rounds of ammunition so far for the year. They have also seized a significant amount of drugs, including 4,280 pounds of marijuana; 104,807 marijuana plants; 43 marijuana cookies; 20 marijuana brownies; one marijuana cake; 14.46 pounds of cocaine; 2,492 ecstasy tablets; 1,029 oxycodone tablets; and 5,968 alprazolam tablets.
As for other crimes, Dames noted a number of prominent offenses are trending downward with a 16 percent decrease of crimes against the person and a five percent decrease of crimes against property.
Armed robbery fell by 20 percent; rape by 29 percent; unlawful sexual intercourse by three percent; and robbery by nine percent.
Housebreaking fell by 37 percent; shop-breaking by 16 percent; and stolen vehicles by 27 percent.
“It is important to note that despite these significant double-digit decreases in key categories of crimes, the one notable trend that is negatively impacting the overall figures is the category of stealing,” Dames said.
“The commissioner has indicated to me that he will be placing a greater emphasis on this offense category, with particular focus on the offense of stealing from vehicles, with the hope of bringing the numbers in this category down.”