There has been a dramatic rise in the number of gun related offences this year when compared to last year, contributing to an overall increase in crime, police statistics have confirmed.
At the same time, lawmen have arrested more people for firearms offences and have seized more illegal guns this year than they did last year.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police responsible for Crime Colvin Bishop this morning held a press briefing at Police Headquarters on Roebuck Street, The City at which he announced a 57 per cent increase in gun crimes up until the end of November this year.
“Three hundred and eighteen crimes were committed with the use of firearms as compared with 202 for the same period in the year 2016,” Bishop told journalists.
He said the gun was a weapon of choice in the commission of offences such as murder, aggravated burglary, endangering life, robbery and assault with intent to rob.
Although he did not give a breakdown of the number of the various crimes in which firearms were used, official police statistics show that of the 28 murders so far this year, 22 were gun related.
With the steep climb in the number of such crimes, Bishop reported a 28 per cent increase in the number of illegal guns seized so far this year, and a 15 per cent rise in the number of cases brought before the courts, the result of stepped up anti-gun operations and recent tours of troubled communities, he said.
To prove his point, the senior police officer staged an exhibition of the 91 seized weapons, displaying them on a table during the news conference.
“This year our policing strategy to combat the use and possession of illegal firearms has been built on four planks: namely interdiction, enforcement, prosecution and education. Our efforts to prosecute persons for firearms has resulted, thus far, with 153 firearms related offences being placed before the law courts compared with 133 for the year 2016,” the acting crime chief disclosed.
“Our enforcement efforts have resulted in the removal of several firearms from the hands of criminals. To date, combined law enforcement efforts have resulted in the seizure of 91 firearms as compared with 71 for the same period last year. The most prevalent firearms recovered were .9mm, .40 and .45 calibre pistols,” Bishop stressed.
The acting crime chief also revealed a 103.5 per cent jump in the amount of ammunition seized during the period this year when compared to the same period last year, from 1337 rounds in 2016 to 2721 rounds so far this year.
“These firearms and ammunition have been seized in a range of circumstances that include police-led investigations and special operations,” he said, drawing reporters’ attention to the display of guns recovered to date.
The rapid rise in gun offences has contributed to a five per cent increase in crimes overall, with lawmen reporting 7,882 up to the end of November this year as compared to 7,492 for the corresponding period in 2016.
However, Bishop assured Barbadians that lawmen would keep up the pressure on criminals, and would continue the visits to the so-called crime hot spots as part of the commitment of the Royal Barbados Police Force to keep the country safe.
He emphasized that most of the illegal guns were imported, but said everything was being done to arrest the scourge, including seeking assistance from friendly countries.