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Police focused on tackling rise in robberies

Police commissioner Michael DeSilva outlined a three-pronged approach being implemented by the Bermuda Police Service to combat the rise in robberies.

Speaking at a press conference where he unveiled Bermuda's end-of-year crime statistics yesterday morning, Mr DeSilva said there was about one extra crime for every day of 2015 compared with 2014.

Of note was an increase in robberies up by 13 offences on last year to 46 equating to 36 per cent. While this is the highest rate since 2012, the figure has nearly halved since 2011, when there were 88 robberies.

Mr DeSilva said: “The police are monitoring this trend closely which has continued into 2016, with ten robberies occurring in the first six weeks of the year [2016].”

He said these robberies fell into two categories: crimes of opportunity by criminals with a propensity for violence or violent acts arising out of gang and respect issues. He added: “We went through a spate of chain snatchers last year; they are about feuding tensions between gangs. Once we understand what is driving it, we look at preventive measures and will be stepping up our work with our community action teams and businesses, particularly late-night businesses and high-cash businesses, to look at security features that can make them tougher targets.

“The other prevention is around how we deploy our resources, so if we look at when and where and on whom robberies are occurring, then that really focuses us on where our officers need to be.

“The other one is about bringing these violent offenders to justice. If we can hold people to account, we often find that they are responsible for more than one violent crime.”

Mr DeSilva said the police were well placed to tackle the problem. “In terms of being able to respond to violence, we have demonstrated that we are well positioned,” he said. “We are hoping that the body-worn cameras that we rolled out a few months ago will have an impact.

“It removes all doubt when we review the tape and it is an opportunity to diffuse the situation because we are training our officers to inform the public that they are being recorded. When you know you are being recorded, it gives you the opportunity for pause.”

Last year there were 3,750 offences committed — close to 1,000 each quarter.

“That represents an increase of some 356 crimes — up 10.5 per cent. There were four murders in 2015, including one gun death, compared with four in 2014, two of which were by firearm.

Police logged 21 instances of recovering firearms and/or ammunition throughout the course of the year.

Offences against children led to a marked rise of 17 offences compared with 2011, while residential burglary was down 252 to 449.

Disorder offences, including affray, obstructing police, violently resisting arrest and breaking curfew, were up 60 per cent on last year. Traffic collisions were down to 1,310, with police recording the lowest number of collisions for five years.

While overall crime was up last year, Mr DeSilva accentuated the positive, given that 2015 figures were held in comparison with a 2014 standard that returned the lowest total crime rate since 2000.

At the time Mr DeSilva said the low-crime rate in 2014, in particular in relation to gangs, was in part down to “more officers on foot patrol, more community action teams, a greater investigative and forensic capacity and more support from the community”.

Wrapping up, Mr DeSilva highlighted the recently published BPS Strategic Plan 2016 to 2018, which took effect on January 1 and said his team would be constructing the first of three annual policing plans to coincide with the financial year starting April 1.

“These plans articulate our priorities to the public, which are tackling crime and antisocial behaviour, engaging with the community and making the roads safer,” he said.

For the commissioner's full remarks, click on the PDF link under “Related Media”.

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Published February 13, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated February 13, 2016 at 8:26 am)

Police focused on tackling rise in robberies

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