National Security Minister criticises murder rate story
This year is on track to record the lowest crime statistics since 2000, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief said.
He told the House of Assembly that the figures, available on the Bermuda Police Service website, beat last year’s record-breaking numbers and could have been promoted by
The Royal Gazette instead of the murder rate statistics that made Monday’s front page.
That story, Mr Perinchief said, was like shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre.
The Minister said the fact that the per capita murder statistic was correct was not the issue.
“Public safety and confidence in our institutions is one of the attractive factors to business, investment and tourists. Each entity with a public voice has a role to play in promoting our single greatest attribute: our overall attractiveness to vacation, live and do business,” he said.
“What is unfortunate is the headline, the adverse comparisons with the United States and the UK and the positioning of the story.”
He said that 2010 had recorded the lowest statistics for all crime since 2000 and the first three quarters in 2011 were 8.6 percent lower than the first three quarters of 2010.
“None of this can be taken to minimise the scale of the problem we face,” Mr Perinchief said.
“None of this can take away the pain of those families who mourn the loss of young men to violence. The message of these figures is that every waking hour of police time is spent pursuing a working strategy of disrupting the rhythm of gang violence and promoting safer communities for the Island.”
He said the more positive statistics “could just as easily have featured in banner headlines”.
“To have done so would have demonstrated the level of support commensurate with a country committed to inspiring confidence in those areas we need to promote economic stability in these challenging times.”
He added: “I encourage free press and do not shy away from bad news. I have presented today what some might term the silver lining to the cloud created by Monday’s story.”
Mr Perinchief was asked by Kim Swan, elected to the House as a United Bermuda Party MP, whether he preferred that serious crime be ignored.
The Minister stressed that he was simply asking for a “responsible delivery of the facts”.
“Shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre, even if there is a fire,” is never a good idea,” he responded.
“There was a balance to those statistics which could have been presented by the paper and they failed to do that.
“We’re asking for responsibility, a sense of commitment to the Country, rather than just presenting facts in an alarmist fashion. It’s the alarmist fashion in which it was presented that we object to.”
Mr Swan asked the Minister how he would “characterise the steep increases in murders for a country with 70,000 residents”.
Speaker Stanley Lowe said that Mr Perinchief did not have to answer the question if his Ministerial statement did not make reference to it.
However Mr Perinchief repeated the statistics presented in his statement, saying that crime statistics peaked in 2009 and there had been a downward trend since then.