Minister of National Security Marvin Dames yesterday said there is a risk of increased crime when blackouts occur, but police are normally briefed in order to shift resources when they do occur.
Over the weekend, various parts of New Providence were plagued by power outages with some lasting upward of five hours at a time.
Amid the outages, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) refused to release its load-shedding schedule with the public.
The reason BPL officials previously gave for not releasing the schedules was fear of increased criminal activity within affected areas.
Asked yesterday if police officers told BPL not to release load-shedding schedules, Dames said, “I don’t know anything about the BPL situation other than we had outages and they did send out communications to that effect.”
Dames said law enforcement officials have “a real concern” about power outages especially “a total blackout”.
“I mean, there’s always a risk,” he said.
“If there is a blackout there’s a risk that persons will take advantage of that blackout.”
The minister added, “There’s a potential. There’s always the potential. Look, when we have hurricanes, for example, that’s an opportunity for criminals to take advantage of a natural disaster and we’ve had situations such as that.
“And, so, I think your question would be whether their concerns were legitimate. I mean, yes. I think it’s a legitimate concern that, I mean, there is a total blackout on our island, an island-wide blackout, [where] if they do certain things there may be a risk that other things may happen. You know, that’s not uncommon.”
Dames assured the public that police presence remains increased throughout New Providence.
He said officers are usually “pre-warned” in the case of blackouts so they are able to disperse to affected areas.
“…If the blackout happens suddenly, officers are advised and the police will shift their resources as needed and where necessary,” the minister said.
“This is common. This is policing 101.”
BPL Chairman Donovan Moxey said yesterday that the company is working to improve its communication with the public, noting that it intends to use community WhatsApp groups to disseminate information about planned load-shedding exercises.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice