Overall crime stats fall in 2012
30 confirmed firearm incidents –last year, compared to 26 in 2011 and 54 in 2010
By Ceola Wilson
Bermuda’s crime rate is falling but gun murders continues to top the list of major crimes in 2012, at a rate that remained the same as the total recorded in the previous year.
Five people were murdered last year, all as a result of gun crimes. Another seven people sustained gun shot wounds but that number is down from the 11 people injured in 2011.
Police recorded 19 firearm incidents in the last quarter of 2012, 13 shooting incidents were confirmed by police. Another six resulted in either a gun or ammunition seizures.
There was also a “minor increase” in year-on-year firearm incidents, 53 were recorded last year compared with 50 in 2011.
Police recorded 30 “forensically-confirmed firearm incidents in 2012 compared with 26 in 2011 and 54 in 2010.
The report on Quarterly Crime Statistics 2012 was released yesterday at a press conference by the Bermuda Police Service.
A total of 3,989 crimes were reported in 2012 — a decrease of 8.7 percent when compared to 2011. Despite that, more crimes were recorded at the end of 2012 than in the third quarter of that year.
According to officers, crimes rose by 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva said “as could be expected” the report contained “some good news and some not-so-good news”.
“The overall picture is that the long-term trend of total crime in Bermuda continues to be decreasing. This is the lowest annual crime rate in over 12 years.”
But while the “rates of firearm incidents are below the numbers in 2010” he said they are “still much higher than anyone would want”.
He also stressed that as of Tuesday, “there have been 34 convictions in the last three years against murder, attempted murder and gun crime”.
Said Mr DeSilva: “A lot of those trials were successful because of the forensic evidence but equally it’s the amount of testimony that members of the public are giving.
“The number one access that we have to illegal firearms is through information from the public and that hasn’t changed in three years.
“If the public gives us information we find them, if they don’t give us information, we don’t find them.
“I think we are performing in the sense that we are getting some of the guns off the streets and I think it’s a fair concern that we are not getting them all,” he said.
There was also a rise in antisocial behaviour in the fourth quarter of 2012.
According to the report “the long-term trend of crimes against the community remains level”, with 151 incidents in the last three months of the year compared with 135 in the previous quarter.
When compared with the same period in 2011, crimes against the community decreased by 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.
Crimes against the person decreased by 6.2 percent compared with 2011.
Meanwhile crimes against property offences were down by 11.2 percent when compared with those recorded in 2011.
A total of 2,541 such crimes were recorded last year, with 559 offences recorded in the fourth quarter.
According to the report figures for the final quarter in 2012 “continues the long-term decrease of crimes against property from a peak of approximately 1,000 in 2008, to under 600 in 2012”.
Illegal drugs worth an estimated $14.6 million were seized by police last year, which amounted to a total of 247.4kg of controlled drugs, of which 235.4kg was cannabis worth an estimated $11.8 million.
And there were 1,815 traffic collisions in 2012, with “an average of 35 traffic collisions a week in 2012 compared to 47 a week in 2008”. But the number of road traffic fatalities continues to be a key area of concern.
Mr DeSilva said: “The figures are extremely worrying as “Bermuda recorded 17 fatalities in 2008, 13 in 2009, 13 in 2010, nine in 2011 and nine in 2012.”
He noted that “the numbers are going backwards because there are less collisions”. But he said: “The point that we’re making is more people die on the roads than die from gang violence.
“So it’s not enough just to say there are less traffic collisions, you’ve got to look at the damage that’s being caused by the collisions that are occurring.”
Meanwhile, Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said the latest figures “indicate that targeted police strategies are causing crime to trend downwards”.
The figures also “emphasise the importance of providing the police with the resources to sustain the effort required to make an even greater impact” in his view.
Said Mr Dunkley: “There is obviously more work to do and the police are not resting on their laurels. The encouraging trends do not mean any lessening of the zero tolerance for antisocial behaviour.
“Like every organisation the BPS is aiming to do its work more efficiently and the Commissioner’s plans to achieve this deserve the support of everyone in the community.”