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Crime falls to a record low

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Reported crime in Bermuda has fallen to its lowest level since comparative records began.

And an increased willingness by the public to come forward with information has played a role in fighting crime, according to Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva.

However, the latest figures also show that the final quarter of 2011 was the busiest period for firearms incidents in Bermuda.

The Bermuda Police Service released the Quarterly Crime Statistics for 2011 yesterday. Mr DeSilva said: “2011 saw the lowest recorded crime figures since comparative records began in 2000. With total crimes at 4,37, this is a decrease of 4.5 percent on 2010, which is an average of about 12 crimes per day.”

Declines were recorded across three out of four categories, including crimes against the person, which were down 10.3 percent, firearms incidents were down 37 percent and crimes against the community decreased by 13 percent.

The only category that remained virtually the same was crimes against property, which was down by 0.1 percent. Injuries and fatalities in the last quarter of 2011 were down by 55 percent.

The Commissioner said: “Although the overall figure for crime against the person is reduced, the headlines include eight murders in 2011, one higher than the year before. Five murders were firearm related. Three persons have been charged so far with these cases.”

But the final quarter of 2011 ended up being the busiest period for firearms with 14 confirmed and 25 unconfirmed incidents recorded. Five people were shot and injured, there were no fatalities.

Five gun related murders were recorded with 11 non-fatal shootings. The 16 shootings represent a decline of 55 percent when compared to 2010. The total compares to seven fatalities and 29 injuries caused by firearms in 2010 and four fatalities and 13 injuries in 2009.

The latest figures brings the total number of persons shot since the dramatic increase of firearm incidents in 2009 to 2011 to 69, 16 of which were fatal.

There was a substantial decrease in year-on-year firearm incidents with 124 in the last quarter of 2011 compared to 198 in 2010, with the largest decrease in unconfirmed firearms incidents.

In response to questions from

The Royal Gazette Mr DeSilva said: “I don't want to put my mouth on it and then tomorrow we have something tragic but there has clearly been a lull in firearms crime. Now is not the time to ease up on law enforcement and we don't plan to.”

Police seized ten guns and a substantial amount of ammunition over the year. “We've had some lucky breaks on investigation and community intelligence. People are picking up the telephone and using various methods, Crime Stoppers and the likes to tip us off.”

When asked if the intelligence shows that Bermuda's gunmen are using girlfriends to hide their guns, the Commissioner replied: “There's no shortage of creativity in terms of hiding them, carrying them and getting them from one place to the other.

“That's why every chance I get I make the plea that it really does come down to people telling us what they know because that's the titbits that lead us on the trail.” When asked if people are more forthcoming with information, he replied: “Absolutely no question.

“You're seeing a combination of different things, you're seeing a community that's coming together and saying gangs just don't work here, we are not putting up with this, you're seeing law enforcement being applied like never before and you're seeing cross-agency cooperation.”

He noted: “While there's a lot that you can do around enforcement you cannot enforce your way, you cannot arrest your way out of this gang problem. But similarly you can't legislate your way out of the problem either, so the answer really relies on the front end community work.

“We're seeing more and more examples of that everyday in the media, and I think the Bermuda community gets it and I think it shows in the results. I'm just the person who brings the teams together and they come up with ideas and run with it.”

The latest crime report shows there were 1,165 crime offences, an increase of 8.3 percent when compared the third quarter of 2011. This is the seventh lowest quarterly figure since 2000.

On average there were 84 offences a week in the last quarter, compared to 104 offences a week in 2007 reinforcing the view that the long term trend of all crime is decreasing.

In the last three months of 2011, police seized 27kg of illegal drugs with an estimated street value of $3.1 million. The most common drug seized, some 14.5kg, was cannabis with an estimated value of $728,000. Cocaine was the second most common drug seized 7.7kg valued at $1.8 million.

A total of 351kg of illegal drugs with an estimated street value of $52 million was seized last year. Cocaine topped the list with 167.3kg seized worth an estimated $39.3 million. The unusual level of cocaine is directly linked to the seizure of one marine vessel last August. Marijuana was the second most common drug seized in 2011 with 108.6kg valued at $5.4 million.

There were clear indications from Bermuda's top cop that the heat is on and will be turned up a notch in the months ahead through a combination of different measures. Mr DeSilva said: “Now is not the time to ease up on law enforcement and we don't plan to.

“But now is also the time to increase the activity around community intervention, community programmes and all the other things that are needed at the front end of this problem to make a difference.

“I think the wider message for the community is look what happens when we all get together and put our efforts in the same direction. These are not police results, these are Bermuda community results.”

Police also cited “a direct correlation” between last year's 17,429 stop and searches, an increase of 82 percent from the year before, and the fall in crime.

Commisioner of Police Michael DeSilva delivers his 2011 Crime Statistics report at Hamilton Police station Tuesday Photo by Glenn Tucker )
Commisioner of Police Michael DeSilva delivers his 2011 Crime Statistics report at Hamilton Police station Tuesday Photo by Glenn Tucker )
Commisioner of Police Michael DeSilva delivers his 2011 Crime Statistics report at Hamilton Police station Tuesday Photo by Glenn Tucker )
Quarterly crime statistics at a glance

* Crimes against the person offences in the fourth quater (Q4) of last year increased by 12.9 percent compared to the previous quarter. When compared to the same period in 2010, there was an increase of three offences or 1.7 percent. The total number of crimes against the person for Q4 was 184 the total for 2011 was 721.

Despite an increase in Q4, caused by an increase in other assaults, the 10.3 percent year on year decrease points to a long-term trend of crimes against the person is on the decline.

* The number of people arrested and brought into police custody in Q4 decreased by 137. There were 4,540 people arrested in 2011, of those 3,827 were male and 713 were female. The analysis of people arrested by age revealed that in 2011 there were 1,330 individuals arrested between the ages of 26 to 35, compared to the next most frequently arrested age group, the 18 to 25s with 1,254.

Of the 4,540 people arrested last year, 4,160 were Bermudian and 380 were foreign nationals. The most common arrested foreign nationals were American (152), Jamaican (61), British (30) and the Azores (24). The majority of individuals arrested were black (4,009), 436 were white.

* Crimes against the community offences in Q4 decreased by 34 offences, or 16.7 percent, compared to Q3. When compared to the same period last year, Q4 has decreased by 19 offences or by 10.1 percent. The total for Q4 was 170 and the total for 2011 was 789.

Last year's final quarter figures are the lowest quarterly figures since 2007, due to the decrease in antisocial behaviour which decreased from 145 in Q3 to 121 in Q4 2011. Despite the decreases the long-term trend of crimes against the community remains slightly upwards.

* Crimes against property offences in Q4 increased by 102 offences or 14.4 percent compared to Q3. When compared to the same period in 2010, Q4 increased by 116 offences or 16.7 percent. The increase was due to burglary (residential) from 125 the prvious quarter to 209 in the last three months of the year.

Despite this increase, the long-term trend of crimes against property remains downwards.

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Published February 22, 2012 at 9:00 am (Updated February 22, 2012 at 9:18 am)

Crime falls to a record low

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