NASSAU –– There have been 66 murders so far this year, representing a 22 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2016, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames told the House of Assembly last night.
Dames also revealed that the government has disbanded the former administration’s controversial National Intelligence Agency (NIA) — which was operating without a legal framework since its inception.
He said whenever the NIA is mentioned again, it will be once laws are in place to govern it, adding that the former structure was an intelligence agency by name only.
“According to the latest figures by the Royal Bahamas Police Force, as of today’s date [Monday] there are 66 murders for this year, an increase of 22 per cent compared to the same time last year,” Dames said during his contribution to the budget debate.
“The murder count has exceeded 100 for each of the last five years. In fact, in 2015 the country recorded 146 murders, the most in its history. We also noticed an inverse relationship between the murder rate and the detection rate. In other words, as murder rates have been increasing, detection rates have been decreasing.”
“While the former administration touted a 26 per cent reduction in crime in 2016, right minded Bahamians have long concluded that the current crime levels are far too high in the first place. Firearms played a significant role in our crime challenges. For example, a new crime study indicates that during 2010 to 2015, 78 per cent of murder victims died as a result of gunshot wounds. The researchers also found that there were 906 shooting incidents during the same period that did not result in death.
“Mr Deputy Speaker, findings also indicate that 2,566 firearms were taken off our streets during that time period. In fact, 160 firearms and 4,154 rounds of ammunition have already been seized thus far for this year.”
He said while he commends the efforts of law enforcement, it is not difficult for criminals to find illegal weapons and commit crimes. He added that even though resources are scarce, the country “cannot afford to conduct business as usual”.