WEDNESDAY, FEB. 22 UPDATE: There will be no let up on efforts to halt gang and gun violence despite a drop in crime, Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva vowed yesterday.
Mr DeSilva said the police service would continue with its stop and search tactics in a bid to combat violence on the streets.
He was speaking as the service revealed its annual statistics for last year — which included 17,429 stop and searches, an 82 per cent increase on the previous year.
Mr DeSilva said: “There is a direct correlation between increased enforcement levels and decreased crime and I think that is borne out by evidence of this year and last year with these crime figures.”
He added: “Interestingly, there has also been a drop off in the use of stop and search powers that correlates with a reduction in gun crimes.
“But a spike in firearms incidents in the fourth quarter means we will not be taking our foot off the gas with the use of stop and search powers as an effective tool against gang suppression.”
The figures show that last year’s crime rates were the lowest since comparable records began in 2000.
Mr DeSilva said: “With total crimes at 4,371, this is a decrease of 4.5 per cent on 2010, which is an average of 12 crimes a day.”
Firearms offences dropped by 37 per cent overall, while injuries and fatalities fell by more than half (55 per cent) year on year.
Mr DeSilva said: “The final quarter of 2011 ended up being the busiest period for firearms incidents with 14 confirmed and 25 unconfirmed incidents.
“This included five people being shot and injured, but with no fatalities.”
There were 124 firearms incidents logged in 2011 compared to nearly 200 in 2010.
A total of 50 of the 2011 incidents were confirmed by forensics, while 2010 saw more than 70 where evidence of gunshots was found.
Police recovered a total of 10 guns last year, compared to seven the year before and just one in 2009.
Mr DeSilva said the high level of gun seizures was down to “lucky breaks” in investigations and an increasing public confidence in coming forward with information.
A total of 16 people were shot in 2011, with five fatalities and there were also three other murders where firearms were not used.
The year before, 36 people were shot, with seven of them dying of their injuries.
Mr DeSilva said: “The message to the community would be this is a lull – I don’t want to put my mouth on it and tomorrow we have something tragic. There has clearly been a lull in violent crime – this is not the time to ease up and we don’t intend to.
“It’s a combination of different things – a community which is coming together and saying gangs just don’t work here and we’re seeing law enforcement hit like we have never seen before.”
At the same time, assaults fell by more than 10 per cent and crimes against the community – which includes offences like anti-social behaviour, gun crime and other weapons offences – were reduced by 13 per cent.
Crimes against property – including burglary – showed only a slight drop of 0.1 per cent.
The number of assaults also dropped year-on-year, with 83 fewer offences being reported to police.
There was a total of 721 assaults – crimes against the person - in 2011, compared to 804 in 2010, a decrease of 10.3 per cent.
Although there was a spike in crimes against property – which includes burglary – in the final quarter of 2011, police said there had been a slight drop of 0.1 per cent year on year in reported offences in this category.
There were 2861 offences against property last year, compared to 2864 the year before.
Mr DeSilva said that the number of drugs seizures in 2011 was “significant” with a total of 351kg of drugs with a street value of $52 million being seized.
The year’s haul included a total of 180kg of cocaine, which Mr DeSilva described as “exceptional” and reflected in increase in successful searches at sea involving Customs officers and overseas agencies.
Mr DeSilva said that nine people died on Bermuda’s roads last year.
He added: “The number of deaths is still tragic but it represents the lowest recorded since 2004.”
In addition, there was an average of 38 traffic collisions a week last year, down 13.4 per cent on the previous year and a huge reduction on the average of 58 a week five years ago.
Mr DeSilva added that the force handled nearly 42,500 calls in 2011 — an average of 116 a day and 2,000 up on 2010.
He said: “This is the highest we have ever recorded and still about three or four times more than other similar jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands.”
He added: “I have to put it down to public confidence — people are calling police because they think we can help.”
The figures for the year also reflected an increase in public confidence that police would get the job done.
Mr DeSilva said: “Overall satisfaction with the Bermuda Police Service has increased significantly, with two thirds of residents now expressing complete satisfaction with the service (66 per cent) and another 25 per cent expressing satisfaction for a combined total of 91 per cent – the highest in the last three years.
“Conversely, nine per cent of residents expressed dissatisfaction – which is also the lowest in three years.”
I have called this press conference today to report on Bermuda’s crime statistics for the year ending 31st December 2011.
2011 saw the lowest recorded crime figures since comparative records began in 2000. With total crimes at 4,371 this is a decrease of -4.5% on 2010, which is an average of about 12 crimes per day. Crimes were reduced in 3 of the 4 major categories:
- Crimes Against the Person (-10.3%)
- Firearms Incidents (-37% overall; Injuries and fatalities: -55%)
- Crimes Against the Community (-13%)
and remained about the same in:
- Crimes Against Property -0.1%
Although the overall figure for Crime Against the Person is reduced, the headlines include that there were 8 murders in 2011, one higher than the year before. 5 murders were firearms related. 3 persons have been charged so far in connection with these cases.
The final quarter of 2011 ended up being the busiest period for firearms incidents with 14 confirmed and 25 unconfirmed incidents. This included 5 persons being shot and injured, but with no fatalities. This makes the yearly total: 5 firearms related murders and 11 non-fatal shootings. These 16 shootings represent a reduction of -55% compared against 2010.
A steady and encouraging increase of community intelligence resulted in the recovery of 11 firearms and a substantial amount of ammunition over the year.
Since 2009 when the spike in gun violence began, 28 cases have gone to trial resulting in 21 guilty verdicts and a conviction rate of 75%. That equates to 3 out of 4, and is clear evidence of the joined up efforts of law enforcement, prosecution and community support. Sentences have ranged from 5 to 38 years imprisonment. So far in 2012, 3 more convictions have been added and 9 cases are currently awaiting trial.
4,450 arrests were made in 2011, which is a decrease from the previous year by -10.7%. Of those arrested, 22 persons were arrested for murder, 51 for firearms offences and 118 for residential burglaries. About half of all arrests continue to relate to court issued warrants.
Stop and search:
Police conducted 17,429 stop and searches in 2011, an increase of 82% compared to 2010. There is a direct correlation between increased enforcement levels and decreased crime levels as evidenced this year and last with these crime figures.
Interestingly, there has also been a drop off in the use of stop and search powers that correlates with a reduction in gun crimes. But a spike in firearms incidents in the fourth quarter means we will not be taking our foot off the gas with the use of stop and search powers as an effective tool against gang suppression.
Drug seizures in 2011 were once again significant, with a total of 351 Kg of controlled drugs being recovered during the year and an estimated street value of $52 million. Interdiction at the Ports of Entry by the Customs Department accounted for 87% of the value of seizures. The seizure of 180Kg of cocaine is also exceptional and represents increased maritime interdictions with Customs as well as overseas agencies.
Bermuda recorded 9 fatal road traffic collisions in 2011. The number is still tragic but it represents the lowest recorded since 2004. There was an average of 38 traffic collisions per week in 2011, which is a significant reduction from 58 per week five years ago. The total number of collisions was 1,955 or -13.4% less than 2010.
Calls for service:
Once again calls for service have increased exponentially to 42,448 (116 per day), 2,000 more than in 2010, and the highest to date. This is still about 3 or 4 times more than other similar jurisdictions.
Bermuda Omnibus Survey Q4 2011:
Overall satisfaction with the BPS has increased significantly, with two-thirds of residents now expressing complete satisfaction with the Service (66%) and another 25% expressing satisfaction – for a combined total of 91% - the highest in the last 3 years. Conversely, 9% of residents expressed dissatisfaction – which is also the lowest in 3 years.