Archive for January 25th, 2009

Violence up but crime down

Violence up but crime down

| 25/01/2009 | 6 Comments

(CNS): Police are facing mixed results regarding the annual year-end crime statistics as, despite the overall crime rate falling by 22%, murders and attempted murders have increased dramatically. With seven murders in 2008 compared to three in 2007 and 15 attempted murders last year compared to six in 2007 an increase of more than 133% for both crimes, the police said most of these crimes were connected to licensed premises and the drugs trade.

“We are very concerned about the level of murders and attempted murders,” said James Smith the acting Police Commissioner on Friday at a press briefing held to announce the figures. “We would like that not to have risen we would have liked that to have gone down.”

He said that the Royal Cayman Islands police Service, (RCIPS) was working very hard to solve the outstanding murders, continuing to take preventative measures and developing strategies to prevent them from occurring in the future. “I think it is fair to say that of the seven murders in 2008 and in the one very early this year, four of these have direct connections to bars and nightclubs and of the remainder there are likely to be significant links to drugs,” Smith added.

Smith said that the RCIPS was working closely with licensees and he said there was a willingness on the part of the liquor licensing board to help the police tackle the problem. Deputy Commissioner Anthony Ennis noted that the law regarding license premises was under review and the police have been asked to consult on it. He added that he was hoping to see more stringent rules put it place as he said the current situation where premises are placed on perpetual probation was not helping.

The issue of more crimes involving firearms was also said to be of concern and Smith revealed that another AK 47 had been found and seized on island last year though it had not been used. In total he said 26 firearms, ranging from handguns to imitation weapons along with various amounts of ammunition had been taken off the streets.

Smith said that there could never be any legitimate reason for anyone possessing an AK 47 but he also expressed his own concerns that there were too many firearms on island that were supposedly legally held and said he could not understand why people wanted to hold guns adding that he wanted to ensure all the weapons were safely held.

“Often the disastrous outcomes from firearms come from those that are legally held,” said Smith. “I need to be convinced that there is a strong reason for someone to hold a firearm.  It is a concern to me the number of licensed firearms holders on the island because for everyone that you have the opportunity for an unfortunate outcome increases. I have asked my firearms licensing department to conduct a full review of every licence held for that reason. I want to be convinced that they are legitimately held, properly stored and properly used.”

With drugs forming the back drop to many crimes Smith said the focuson developing the Marine Unit including the arrival of new boats would be of invaluable assistance to the service in fighting the crime associated with drugs which was also a border issue. Ennis said that during 2008, 4477 pounds of ganja, approximately 2.2 pounds of cocaine, 4.692 grams of ecstasy, 4.44 grams of hash oil, 2.325 pounds of magic mushrooms and 77 drug utensils were seized and 311 drug arrests were made. Smith admitted that the majority of those arrests were however for consumption and possession of small amounts rather than for intent to supply or importation offences. He did however note that just 72 hours into the New Year that four men had been arrested in connection with importation when 385 pounds of ganja and a boat was seized during a Marine Unit and Drugs Task Force operation.

As well as an increase in both murder and attempted murder, the incidents of rape also increased this year by more than 28.5% but domestic violence decreased by more than half. However, professionals often warn that statistics in these crimes can be exceptionally misleading as they can be adversely or positively affected by an increase or decrease in reporting s depending on the perceived climate within the community by victims of such crimes.

While Smith stated that the 22% decline in crime rate overall represented a figure of 700 less victims of crime he and Ennis both acknowledged that there was a very real and serious perception that crime was increasing and people were afraid.

“Crime generally is down but there is a fear of crime,” said Ennis who said there is a perception gap and the fear, he believed, owed much to the of nature some crimes last year including the gruesome murder of Estella Scott-Roberts as well as the number of robberies involving weapons.

He said crime could not be addressed by the police alone it was not just the responsibility of the service, or government but the community at large.


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