While overall crime decreased by seven percent in 2019, statistics released yesterday by Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson revealed increases in the number of murders and armed robberies.
According to the statistics, there were 95 murders in 2019, compared to 91 in 2018 – an increase of four percent.
Ferguson said that he is encouraged that the count remained under 100 for the second consecutive year, but noted that it does not mean there can be complacency in the effort to curb the murder rate.
“We will instead be more vigilant in our efforts to further reduce this crime,” he said.
There was a 12 percent increase in armed robberies, with 531 incidents in 2019 compared to 474 in 2018.
Of those, he said 470 were committed with a gun.
In his speech, Ferguson highlighted illegal firearms as a major issue in The Bahamas.
“Serious intentional injuries continue to be a major concern and challenge to law enforcement and, by extension, our medical colleagues,” he said.
“There continues to be far too many illegal firearms in the hands of persons with criminal intent. We are aware of the many incidents of shootings resulting in death. Incidents of retaliation, drugs and relationships are just some of the motives I’ve mentioned.”
Ferguson said that during the period from the beginning of September to the end of October, there were 25 murders and 140 armed robberies.
He again said the increase was related to police resources being stretched thin in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which devastated parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September.
“We recognize that the best plan or strategy one could have could not mitigate against an act of almighty God – Hurricane Dorian,” Ferguson said.
He added, “Since Hurricane Dorian, over 400 officers were deployed to Abaco on rotation. Having police between Abaco and New Providence using resources from Nassau in Abaco, we were stretched.”
Ferguson added, “While our attention was focused on Abaco and the surrounding cays, a handful of criminals wreaked havoc on New Providence.”
He said that before the storm, there were only 49 police officers on Abaco, but now there are 75 stationed there.
However, Ferguson noted that in spite of that, in the fourth quarter of 2019, there was a 31 percent decrease in murders and a nine percent decrease in armed robberies compared to 2018.
Aside from two instances of manslaughter in 2019, compared to none the year before, nearly every other category of crime decreased overall.
Reported rapes decreased by 33 percent, from 55 in 2018 to 37 in 2019. There was also a decrease in attempted rape with seven incidents reported in 2019, compared to 11 in 2018.
Unlawful sexual intercourse decreased by 14 percent, from 113 reported instances in 2018 to 97 in 2019.
There was a 12 percent decrease in the number of robberies, with 95 in 2019, compared to 108 in 2018.
Crimes against property decreased overall by 18 percent.
However, incidents of stealing increased by 12 percent, with 933 incidents reported in 2019 compared to 831 in 2018.
Ferguson also noted that there was a decrease in complaints against police officers.
“In 2019, 151 complaints were reported compared to 245 reports against police in 2018, which is a decrease of 38 percent,” he said.
“Once again, I want to thank all members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force for their stellar performance throughout 2019.
“…To the public, I thank you for your continued support.”
Ferguson said he will soon submit his policing plan for 2020 to Minister of National Security Marvin Dames.