Crime in Barbados is down, but the Commissioner of Police is worried about a recent spike in gun-related violence and the number of high-powered firearms in the hands of criminals. Acting Commissioner Tyrone Griffith admitted at a news conference at his Roebuck Street, Bridgetown headquarters this afternoon that while overall crime had declined by four per cent this year, this was little consolation to citizens in light of the recent upsurge in shootings.
Griffith said that last year police had to deal with 6,878 cases of crime, while so far this year, the figure was 6,607.
”Firearm-enabled crimes have shown a decrease by four per cent. We are however concerned with the recent activities in the Howells and Ivy, Brittons Hill and New Orleans areas,” Griffith told reporters.
“We continue,” he added, “to employ strategies to curb this lawless activity. So far this, year, 74 firearms of various calibres have been seized, as compared with 66 for 2012; 4,500 rounds of assorted ammunition.
“We are concerned with the number of high-calibre firearms that are being recovered and we have employed strategies to deal with this situation. Given the nature of the investigations, such will not be revealed,” said the acting police chief. ”Predatory crime, robberies and its akin offences, have seen a significant decline. In 2012, there were 833 reports; in 2013 [there were] 489 reports, a decrease of some 41 per cent, which is somewhat significant,” revealed the top cop.
”That being said, it does not detract from the apprehension and fear on the part of citizens when there is a spike in gun-related crimes. In recent weeks, there has been such a spike,” he pointed out. The acting commissioner disclosed that there had been 19 murders so far this year, compared to 17 last year. Of those, the police administrator asserted, 15 had been solved for this year.
“We are continuing to make steady progress into two other murders, and the results would be made known in due course,” Griffith promised.
He assured Barbadians and visitors that the force would continue to work “assiduously” to provide a safe environment for all. ”[We] will not be daunted by negative issues, and the Royal Barbados Police Force remains committed to its mandate,” Griffith insisted.
He noted that even though the financial resources of the Police Force had been cut, with no overtime money now being paid, his officers seemed to have bought into the philosophy to do more with less.
”I said to my men and women [that] in these difficult times we need to do more with less; and I think that is a philosophy that is, as I observed, being applied. I have noted much hard work on the part of the CID officers in going the extra mile without any additional pay. I think they must be commended for that,” continued Griffith.
”Only recently, my assistant commissioner for crime pointed out two young officers who had worked on the robberies that occurred at the QEH pastures, where schoolchildren were actually robbed; and two young officers, with not many years’ service, were able to work for several hours overtime to bring the perpetrators to justice,” boasted the Acting Commissioner of Police. He said that was the kind of example the hierarchy of the force was hoping for.
The head of the constabulary admitted that while the “freeze” on overtime would challenge the law enforcement agency in meeting all its crime prevention and crime fighting efforts, “I think, generally speaking, members of the force are prepared to go the extra mile to ensure that citizens of this country are safe”.
Griffith told reporters that his administration had not yet decided if it would put high-powered weapons in the hands of officers, in order to counter those used by criminals. However, he made it clear that if there was a sufficient enough reason to do so, it would be done. (EJ)