Crime in Barbados is showing a spike this year, but the police are reporting success in their response.
Acting Police Commissioner Tyrone Griffith today summoned a special meeting of the Royal Barbados Police Force against the backdrop of a 14 per cent jump in overall crime during the first quarter against the corresponding period last year.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Griffith said he wanted meet with his team, given the trying times the Force has been going through, to account for its performance and whether planned goals had been achieved.
The police chief lamented that the Force had been encountering a troubling level of murders and firearm-enabled burglaries, but he noted that these had started to decline following some recent arrests.
“We spoke at length about some of the crimes we have been encountering; those aggravated burglaries at residences where people would appear as if they were on bona fide business and then force their way into people’s residences,” the top cop said.
“We spoke about the murders and the success that we have had and we have had quite a bit of success in relation to the crime,” he emphasized. “You would have seen a number of people (who went) before the courts in the last two weeks in relation to those matters.”
The acting commissioner said the most troubling aspect of crime during the first quarter, started in first six to eight weeks. “It was the murders, many of which were firearm-enabled,” he pointed out.
The police chief told this newspaper that in the first half of the quarter under review, there was a sharp increase in violent crime, especially murders. “That has leveled off. So we are on par with what we have had last year at this time,” he said.
While he could not provide a percentage, Griffith said last year there were six murders. He said even though there had been a substantial spike in burglaries, the situation had settled down over the last two weeks, with a number of people being arrested and charged.
Asked if the Force had achieved goals set for the first quarter, Griffith gave a blunt “no!”
“Ideally we would have hoped for a continuing decline in crime as we have had last year, which is ambitious in that, if we had actually balanced out for last year, we would have been fine, because that is a 15 per cent [decline] over the previous year. So that is quite remarkable,” he said.
The acting commissioner said while the rate of crime was up, measures put in place by the Force were working. He said lawmen had been doing some very good investigations, noting that the forensics department had been unearthing quite a bit.
“So we have solved a high percentage of those burglaries that were attracting the attention of the public,” he stressed.
Griffith also disclosed “tremendous” successes in fighting crime against visitors with a 14 per cent drop in this category.
“I think a lot has to do with the measures we have put in place. We have reinforced the beaches by putting [measures]. All the prominent beaches we have with special constables paying special attention,” he told Barbados TODAY. “In addition, we had CID personnel involved.”
Griffith drew attention to a significant increase in visitors coming to Barbados, noting he had not seen so many in a long time. “And they are still coming to our shores and we have had about a 14 per cent decline in visitor crime.”