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Murder mix-up for island

Good news: Wayne Caines told MPs in December that crime was down on the island (Photographs by Akil Simmons)

A news story claimed 131 murders had been committed in Bermuda last year after a Caribbean news agency mixed up the island and Belize, it was revealed yesterday.The year-end roundup for the Caribbean region, produced by the Caribbean Media Corporation, focused on 2019 crime statistics. The article said: “In Bermuda, the police said 131 murders had been committed with just a few days left in 2019 as compared with 144, the previous year.” It added: “Crime, especially murders, remained unabated in the Caribbean in 2019.“Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda and even Barbados were among Caricom countries where crime had been a major issue this year.” Peter Richards, the wire editor at CMC, admitted yesterday that a mistake was made and that it would be corrected. He explained: “The article should have said Belize and not Bermuda.” A spokesman for the Bermuda Police Service said yesterday that there had been no murders in 2019 and five in 2018.The news story, which was picked up by several publications in the Caribbean, sparked anger in Bermuda. Dozens of people commented after the story was posted on an island social media site this week. Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, wrote: “I have spoken to a key stakeholder. We will address this formally.” Mr Caines did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.Kevin Dallas, the Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO, said: “While we may share the first letter of our name with other islands, visitors can rest assured Bermuda’s record on low crime and public safety sets us apart as one of the safest destinations in the world.“We have our community, police and first-rate legal system to thank for that.”Mr Caines gave an update in the House of Assembly in December on crime last year. He told MPs that the overall crime rate was down. Mr Caines said: “Firearms incidents are down. Robberies are down. Antisocial behaviour is down. “I stand here today to thank all the agencies and persons who continue to work to make Bermuda safe.” The minister thanked the Inter-Agency Gang Taskforce, the Inter-Agency Gang Enforcement Team, and the Gang Violence Reduction Team and members of the public “too numerous to name” who had also pitched in to stem the tide of violent crime. He also highlighted the work of the Bermuda Police Service. Mr Caines said: “I recognise the job you have is not an easy one.“I can see the fruits of your labour.”Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police, said last month that there had been a “marked reduction” in violent crime. He said the fall was due to “prevention, protecting people, good intelligence and good partnership”. But Mr Corbishley warned that more needed to be done. He said: “The work to be done, I think, is the social side — how do we get young men to realise that selling some bags of weed in the street is not the right way forward and it’s high risk? “There’s a lot of work being done by Government to do that and I think that is the long road that will have most success.”Belize, with a population of 408,000, is on the north eastern coast of Central America and borders the Caribbean Sea.