A recent study has found that although Barbados has one of the lowest rate of reported homicides in the region, its figures are still troubling since the percentage of its population indirectly affected by violence remains high.
“Barbados is at a point where anti-crime efforts – both crime prevention and control – that are evidence-based and targeted at high-risk individuals and geographic areas, could prevent higher crime rates in the future,” said the report on the Inter-American Development Bank-funded study, which was released yesterday.
The document entitled, Restoring Paradise in the Caribbean: Combatting Violence With Numbers, also pointed out that while there was concern that crime across the Caribbean had increased, there was a lack of quality, comparable and detailed data.
However, it said based on analyzes of the results of victimization surveys, “in many respects, Barbados seems to be the exception to the high rates of violent crime in the Caribbean region.
“It has one of the lowest homicide rates in Latin America and Caribbean region [11 per 100,000 in 2015], although that rate has increased in recent years. Victimization rates
[percentage of the population victimized] for the five crimes measured in the survey, were among the lowest in the region,” the report said.
Researchers compared the 2015 national victimization rates with those of 2002 in Barbados. This showed that the percentage of the population victimized by burglary had dropped from 3.2 per cent to 1.7 per cent, while those impacted by assaults and threats rose from 3.2 per cent to 5.1 per cent.
The study also revealed that the Greater Bridgetown area had one of the lowest victimization rates for common street crimes when compared to other capital cities covered in the report.
“Only 3.4 per cent of residents reported being a victim of theft of personal property [stealing without violence] and 1.9 per cent of robbery [stealing with violence] in a 12-month period,” the researchers found.
These victimization rates, the study disclosed, were significantly lower than international averages.
Prevalence of burglary in Bridgetown (3.2 per cent), according to the survey, was slightly lower than Caribbean regional and international averages (4.1 and 4.5 per cent respectively). However, assault and threats of assault rates, while lower than the regional average (6.1 per cent versus 6.8 per cent), were still high in comparison to the international average for capital cities (4.4 per cent).
“Indirect victimization rates were relatively high. Thirty one per cent of survey respondents in Bridgetown reported having witnessed a serious attack, shooting or beating that resulted in injury or murder in their lifetime, compared to an average of 30.8 per cent for five other capita cities.”
The cost of crime for Barbados was estimated at 1.86 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) (lower bound) and 2.71 per cent (upper bound) annually.
“This is the lowest of the four Caribbean countries analyzed, and amongst the lowest of 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries for which the calculation could be made. “Only 12 per cent of private firms experienced losses due to crime [below average for 13 Caribbean countries and below world average of 56 per cent],” the report found. When it came to a response to the crime problem, the survey noted that Barbadians reported
having higher satisfaction with police performance in controlling crime than most other countries in the Americas, including 22 other Latin American countries, the US and Canada.
Only one per cent, it said, reported paying a bribe to the police – the second lowest in the Americas after Chile – and only 5.6 per cent thought police harassment was a big problem. It suggested that this was a solid basis for good police-community relations. However, no data on objective measures of police performance, such as crime detection rates by type of crime, could be found for Barbados, the study concluded.