Overall crime decreased by 16 percent in 2020, according to statistics released by Commissioner of Police Paul Rolle yesterday.
Rolle said crimes against the person decreased by 21 percent, with 896 incidents in 2019, compared to 712 in 2020.
Murders decreased by 23 percent, Rolle said, with 73 recorded in 2020, down from 95 in 2019.
According to the statistics, 57 percent of murder victims died of gunshot wounds.
Armed robberies decreased by 41 percent, with 313 incidents in 2020, compared to 531 in 2019.
Robbery and attempted robbery decreased by four and 15 percent, respectively.
However, there was a 34 percent increase in sexual offenses, with 213 incidents reported in 2020, up from 159 in 2019. This category includes 50 reports of rape; five reports of attempted rape and 158 reports of unlawful sexual intercourse.
There was also an increase in manslaughter, with four incidents in 2020 compared to two in 2019.
He released the statistics during the Royal Bahamas Police Force’s annual meet the press at police headquarters.
Rolle said crimes against the property decreased by 15 percent. There were 3,519 reports in 2020, down from 4,128 reported incidents in 2019.
According to Rolle, reports of stolen vehicles decreased by 19 percent and stealing from vehicles decreased by 32 percent.
House break-ins decreased by 13 percent.
Burglaries were up 10 percent, with 124 reported in 2020 compared to 113 in 2019. Reports of shopbreaking increased by 10 percent from 495 in 2019 to 545 in 2020.
Rolle said there was also a six percent decrease in traffic fatalities and a 31 percent decrease in traffic accidents.
However, he noted that speeding is still a significant issue on Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Rolle said a spike in murders at the end of December 2020 and the beginning of January 2021 was likely related to “the seasonal impacts, loosening of restrictions on lockdowns and changes in police activities”.
He also noted that some of the incidents may have been gang-related.
However, Rolle said he expects recent seizures of firearms to contribute to a leveling off.
“You have seen where we have recovered any number of firearms, and already for the year, I believe we have already taken some 11 illegal firearms off the street. And if you go between Christmas and now, we probably took about 18 and charged a number of persons before the court.”
He added, “Those high-powered weapons that you have seen that were responsible for at least eight homicides, we have that weapon in our custody. So, I expect to see things level off. But we are going to continue to target these persons and ensure that the general Bahamian public remains safe.”
Rolle said 75 percent of the murders that took place in 2020 have been solved by police.
While many have suggested that the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 contributed to the reduction in crime, Rolle labeled those claims as “nonsense”.
“That’s why I provided the figures for the last 10 years,” he said.
“If you look at those figures for the last 10 years, you will see we have had a constant decline in crime.
“And I acknowledge the fact that we had this pandemic last year, but the work that officers did, as far as I’m concerned, contributed to the overall reduction.
“…You all have to give us some credit because we have done a whole lot. When crime goes up, we take responsibility, so, the least that people can do is credit us when we get a reduction. So, I commend the officers for the work that they have done and continue to do.
“It had nothing to do with COVID. I never saw COVID go out and lock anybody up. I haven’t seen COVID on patrol. You all saw it? We were out there.”
There was a 54 percent increase in police-involved shootings, with 20 incidents in 2020, compared to 13 in 2019.
Those incidents also resulted in more deaths, with 11 people having died of their injuries from those incidents in 2020, compared to eight in 2019.
Rolle said 10 of the fatal injuries are before the Coroner’s Court, while a police sergeant was charged before the Magistrate’s Court in the other fatal incident.
“In two of the non-fatal incidents, disciplinary action was taken against two officers,” Rolle said.
“Suspects were charged in other matters.”
Rolle also noted a two percent decrease in complaints against police in 2020, when there were 149 complaints in total, compared to 152 in 2019.
The commissioner said the 2020 figure represents the lowest number of complaints in five years.
“We peaked in 2018 with 213 complaints,” he said.
Rolle said 37 disciplinary cases for 2020 ended with conviction resulting in terminations, resignations, reductions in rank, reductions in seniority and fines.
“Officers in ranks from constable to superintendent were affected,” he said.
Rolle said 44 complaints from 2020 are under investigation, while 21 cases were withdrawn, 30 were unfounded and 17 are pending trial.