Police chief says smugglers are getting help
Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith has said that persons charged with protecting the island’s borders may be assisting with the smuggling of illegal guns into the country, either wittingly or unwittingly.
While addressing the media at a press conference at the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) headquarters on Roebuck Street, Bridgetown this afternoon, Griffith spoke of an “abundance” of illegal weapons here, which he said were entering Barbados “through legitimate ports of entry” and were creating an untenable situation.
“From an investigative view point, it is clear that there is an abundance of high caliber weapons and large quantities of available ammunition on the streets. What is also clear is that [those] weapons are not lawfully manufactured in Barbados and the wider region, so they are being smuggled into the island. Our intelligence suggests they are coming through legitimate ports of entry, either assisted by officials, or not detected by them at our borders,” Griffith said
“This is an untenable situation which has to be addressed if we are to stem the flow of these weapons.”
Asked if he believed some of these guns were being brought in through ports other than the island’s two main ports of entry, Grantley Adams International Airport and the Bridgetown Port, Griffith avoided singling out any port. However, he suggested there were weak points about which the police were concerned.
“I won’t say we have evidence. I would say there are areas of concern. Obviously the criminal elements will look for the weakest points and it is something that we are very, very [worried about]. These are things which we have to take into consideration, but I wouldn’t say we have any evidence,” he said. The police chief disclosed that officers had recovered 33 high-powered guns so far for the year, including Tec-9, a self loading semi- automatic pistol; .380, .40, .45 and 9mm. pistols, adding that most of the weapons were being brought into the island as parts and were being re-assembled on our shores.
Additionally, Griffith said the issue of guns being “rented out” was still a cause of worry, as two police officers had been shot by “rented guns” to date.
Flanked by other high ranking police officials including Acting Deputy Commissioner Oral Williams and Acting Assistant Commissioners Lila Strickland, Livingstone Eversley, Erwin Boyce and Eucklyn Thompson, the police chief said investigations had revealed illegal drugs were at the heart of the recent spate of gun related crimes.
“From a law enforcement perspective, these gunfights are results of feuds between rival groups where there is a common denominator in that of illegal drug activity being at the core of the disputes.”
Despite these challenges, the Commissioner gave his assurance that police were doing everything in their power to bring the situation under control.
“The strategy going forward is to continue reinforcing the strategies that exist in that we are ensuring that every gun-related case that is reported to us, and that we become aware of, we are going to be assiduous in ensuring that we get to the bottom and bringing those persons responsible to justice.
“In addition to that, we will be reinforcing our efforts in those challenged communities and creating a presence. We will be ensuring that we bring those people to justice,” Griffith maintained.
Meanwhile the top law enforcement officer indicated that the perception of crime in Barbados did not match the reality, stating that the figures showed no major increase in serious crime in 2015.
Only last week during Parliament, Attorney- General Adriel Brathwaite revealed there had been a 13 per cent increase in overall crime for the first seven months of the year. However, Griffith told reporters that figure needed to be seen in its proper context. “You would have heard elsewhere that there was a 13 per cent increase in crime at the end of July 2015, over the said period for 2014. I think it is important to put this into context, not to adjust it. The impression could be given that this increase has been in respect of serious crimes and that is surely not the case,” the Commissioner contended.
He explained that murder, manslaughter, rape, burglary, aggravated burglary, crimes against visitors and theft from persons were considered serious crimes.
The commissioner revealed that at the end of July 2015 there were 4782 cases, compared to 4312 for the corresponding period last year.
He said while this represented an increase of 470 cases, or ten per cent, serious crimes contributed very little to that number.
The police chief blamed the rise in crime on the upsurge in drug cases, where there were 212 cases more than for the corresponding period last year.
Griffith said police had also seen an increase of 41 fraud cases, and 51 public order breaches over last year.
He disclosed that cases related to murder, manslaughter, rape, aggravated burglaries and burglaries were all down when compared to 2014.
“When we total these crimes we recognize that there is very little movement over the last year. That is, for these serious crimes there were 1340 in 2014 and 1348 in 2015, a mere increase of eight cases.
“What also must be taken into account is that in 2015, in response to an increase in the use of firearms, a decision was taken to prefer in addition to the parent charge for example of wounding with intent or endangering life, the charge of unlawful use of a firearm. This was not the case in 2014 and so to date this accounts for an increase in some 22 cases over last year,” the commissioner said.
Griffith said there had been 17 murders for the year so far, compared to 19 at the same point in 2014; there were no manslaughter cases compared to one in 2014; 32 rape cases as opposed to 26 for the corresponding period in 2014; 46 aggravated burglaries compared to 47 in 2014 and 953 burglaries compared to 960 for the same time last year.
However, there was an 18 per cent increase in rape cases with 196 in 2015 so far compared to 178 in 2014. There were also increases in firearm cases, with 134 reported so far in 2015 compared to 128 in 2014, and theft, which increased from 99 in 2014 to 104.
“The public currently apprehends a heightened fear of gun related crimes. Statistics show to date that we have an increase of six as it relates to gun related crimes. This is not really catastrophic. This is not really a catastrophic increase.”
While there was a slight increase in crimes against visitors –– rising 182 to 188, Griffith said because of the 14 per cent increase in arrivals this might actually represent a “significant reduction.” email@example.com