Murders have increased and so too the incidence of gun crime, but Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite maintains that overall crime is down.
The Minister of Home Affairs with responsibility for the Royal Barbados Police Force told a meeting of the Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA) last night that when measured over a five-year period, instead of from year to year, the figures actually show that criminal activity on the island is not spiralling out of control.
“Statistically, when one looks at what happened last year, it more or less reflected what has been happening in Barbados over the last five or six years,” he said.
Maintaining that Barbadians have been looking at the crime figures the wrong way, Brathwaite said, “we tend to compare years, so last year we would have said that there was a 15 per cent increase in crime. But that is against a situation where in 2014, there was actually a 14 per cent decrease in crime. So if you extrapolated and looked at it for five or six years, what happened last year was really just a reflection of the level of crime that we had in Barbados over the last five or six years,” he said.
Nonetheless, Brathwaite was forced to acknowledge a recent escalation in violent crimes, in particular those related to the use of firearms.
“The caveat, I admit, the one concern, is the level of gun-related crimes, which concerned us immensely,” he told the meeting at the St Michael School.
The Attorney General also conceded that murders were up.
“I think we had about 31 murders, which was up again from 2014. On average, I think we tend in this country to have about 26 or 27 murders during the course of a year,” he said.
The bright spot, according to Brathwaite, appears to be a reduction in domestic violence. This, he said, could be measured based on the number of protection orders issued by police and the fact that only one domestic violence-related murder was recorded last year.
“So from that perspective I think that last year on the domestic violence front can be seen as a success,” Brathwaite said, adding, “we were having some challenges yes, but I do not see it as a runaway situation that crime was out of control”.