Despite public fears of a spike in gun violence and resulting deaths, police authorities have announced a 26 per cent drop in overall crime for this year.
In an exclusive interview with Barbados TODAY, Deputy Commissioner of Police Erwin Boyce disclosed that between January 1 and June 5, 2021, overall cases of reported crime stood at 2,228, compared to 3,078 for the same period in 2020.
Boyce sought to assure Barbadians that while the wide publicity given to the incidence of violent crime may make it appear that the situation is worse than it really is, it is more the fear of crime that has actually risen in the country.
“It doesn’t match what I am seeing here. People would tell me I am afraid, but when you actually look at the reported or recorded crimes, we are down. So we can say to Barbadians, yes we understand their fears. But we continue to work assiduously to reduce the level of fear by arresting and charging people when they do things that get mileage,” the deputy commissioner declared.
He said some of the shootings which are about one in a given week or two at the most, are not always against a person.
“I do admire newspapers because they are in the information business. But the way the information is channelled into the general public, you get the notion that there is that level of shootings every day or every night that creates a problem for communities and obviously for individuals,” Boyce contended.
Asked what the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) is doing to address the “perception” of an increase in crime, particularly violent crime, the senior police officer said a number of strategies has been put in place.
“We have heightened our visibility in all areas in public spaces. You will find that we do more vehicle checks; we are working with our intelligence unit to create intelligence-led operations. That means that we gather, we pull from this angle, we pull from the next angle and we look at the best approach to deal with a problem based on the intelligence that we have,” said the deputy COP.
“The third strategy is that you would realize that in some communities there might be some concern. Wherever possible we ask that station managers ensure that there is that liaison between the communities and the policing station unit and to keep the flow of information coming and going,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“When we drill down and look at the major or serious crime, we recognize that the total shows 199 crimes less than what was in 2020. There were 584 crimes in 2020 and 385 in 2021…and that is like a 34 per cent decline. If we further break down that major crime, we see that last year at this time, we had 17 murders, but this period now we have nine, which is a 47 per cent decline over the last year figures,” Boyce revealed.
He said there were 80 reported cases of robbery in 2020 compared to 33 so far this year.
However, the deputy COP said the force was worried about the incidence of rape and other sex-related crimes which have recorded an increase.
“What we are concerned about is unlawful sexual intercourse because we had 15 in 2020 and now we have 25 in 2021. And that is not stranger-on-stranger rapes. What we have seen is relationship rapes…what we have seen is some incidences of sex with minors and those have pushed the figure up. Sex with a minor, all of the times the persons are known by the minors,” Boyce stated.
He also noted that police were not getting any reports of rapes being committed by strangers.
“We are also seeing intimate partners non-consensual sex. So that is a concern for us because that in itself moved from 15 to 25, which is a 10 increase…that is unusual for that category of crime,” the senior police official pointed out.
Boyce disclosed that police received reports of 305 residential burglaries in 2020 while for the same period this year, there were 190.
“Were you to say you had certain restrictions in relation to the protocols and the directives with COVID, then it does not necessarily translate here because 2020 was the year of COVID especially from March onward and we registered 305 and people were supposed to be home and people were supposed to be around. In 2021 we had 190. So that is not necessarily driven by the COVID situation,” he suggested.
He also disclosed that there were reports of 100 building burglaries last year as against 79 for the corresponding period this year.
“We have seen a slight increase in aggravated burglaries. We see from 21 in 2020 to 27 in 2021. And that again is relationship…others is a clear indication that a stranger is on the property with a knife or a gun or a weapon,” Deputy Commissioner Boyce told Barbados TODAY.
He said that the incidence of theft from the person recorded 46 cases last year, compared to 21 this year so far.
“So if you look at the stats you realize there has definitely been some decline in the critical offences. But because there is a level of violence in society and it gets a good cover, we in police circles recognize that the fear of crime has spiked…Truth be told, some of the fear is predicated on the fact that there is a new boldness about criminals and some public space shootings that would cause a person to be afraid,” Boyce contended. ([email protected])