In the face of a recent upsurge in gun crimes and worrying levels of violence, Acting Police Commissioner Tyrone Griffith today boasted that Barbados is the safest it has been in 15 years.
“We are actually better off statistically today than ten years ago. In fact, for the last 15 years, crime in Barbados was always annually in excess of 8,000 crimes. For the last two years, crime has been less than 8,000 and this year it’s also on track to be less as well,” the top cop said.
Griffith, who was participating in a panel discussing on the topic, Is Tourism Entering a New and Difficult Phase, during the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of the Industry Conference, did not contribute very much more to the discussion, except to say that the issue now was getting visitors to accept the fact that it was safe for them to visit.
The police chief’s comments come against the backdrop of recent shooting incidents, including the execution style murder of 46-year-old taxi driver Ricardo Anthony Bryan, who was gunned down in the car park of Lucky Horseshoe in Warrens, St Michael on September 1.
Four men — Hakeem Dishon Jeremy Griffith, 22, of Well Gap, Cave Hill, St Michael; Kiastan Hallen Clarke, 23, of 2nd Avenue, Green Hill, St Michael; Jason Shamin Blenman, 21, of Powder Road, Station Hill, St Michael and Stefan Akobi Nkosi Branch, 21, of Castries Road, Cave Hill, St Michael — have since been remanded to jail in connection with that shooting.
It followed closely on the heels of the murder of Andre Hinds who was shot and killed by armed gunmen who entered his home at North Thumberland, St Lucy on August 25.
Four other men have been held in connection with that murder.
The recent incidents have prompted Government senator Dr David Durant to liken the domestic crime situation to the legendary “wild wild west”, while supporting calls for perpetrators to be made to feel the full weight of the law.
Fed with the Government’s response, attorney-at-law and social activist David Comissiong has also called on Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite to step down.
However, Brathwaite has been adamant that politicians are not to blame, while pointing to a failure of the educational system and family values, which he said were “creating the problems that we are having now”.
Last November the United States Embassy here advised US citizens in Barbados of “a recent surge in robberies involving the use of the firearms and high levels of violence”.
In its advisory the American Embassy noted that although the potential for criminal activity specifically targeting US citizens remains medium to low in this jurisdiction, visitors should take appropriate steps to enhance safety.