By Deandrea Hamilton and Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, June 15, 2022 – Despite a double-digit 10% rise in overall crime and a 13% rise in serious crime, TCI Royal Constabulary Commissioner Trevor Botting is maintaining the rhetoric that police have gotten crime under control.
Crime statistics for 2021-2022 were released on Monday; they measure the number of incidents recorded between April 2021 and March 2022; parallel to the fiscal year of the country. This is a change from previous years which counted crimes and arrests over a calendar year. This methodology was announced in 2021 as the new standard for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police.
The rise in incredibly violent crimes against residents and visitors is of particular concern at a time when the Turks and Caicos Islands are experiencing exponential growth, with investors ranking it as one of the region’s most desirable locations for investment. Real estate and tourism recorded record years in terms of arrivals and revenue, pushing government revenue to $391 million.
The police budget for the year 2022-23 is $32.5 million, almost half of the $67.3 million allocated to public order and safety. The figure shared during the May 2022 budget communication is an impressive $3 million above the 2021-22 allocation; then to $29.4 million.
Botting’s rationale for stating that the police control crime is tied to significant arrests, he said. The TCI Royal Police arrested suspects who drove up the crime rate early in the fourth quarter of last year (January and February).
During this period of January/February 2022, a series of violent crimes were perpetrated against locals and tourists, including shootings, armed invasions of houses or villas, armed carjackings, ambushes in parking lots and beaches and shop robberies.
In some cases, people were shot; at least one tourist and a little girl were shot. Both luckily survived.
“While overall crime and the number of serious crimes increased by 10% and 13% respectively, the Turks and Caicos Islands experienced a very significant increase in crime in January and February 2022. This increase represented 68 additional serious crimes compared to the year. before and compared to overall crime, the same two months saw 121 additional crimes compared to January and February 2021.
We believe these additional crimes were perpetrated by a very small number of prolific offenders, offenders who are no longer active,” Commissioner Botting said.
Overall, 1,738 crimes were committed in the Turks and Caicos Islands during the period April 2021 to March 2022, which is 157 more crimes than the 1,581 crimes committed in the previous 12 months of April 2020 to March 2021, resulting in a 10% increase.
For context, without the “additional 68 serious crimes” during the January/February 2022 peak, there would have been a total of 1,670 crimes over the 12-month period, a 5% increase from to the previous period.
Additionally, the police commissioner gave no details of operations related to these “prolific offenders” and he did not say what he meant by them being no longer active.
Commissioner Botting provided reasonably detailed statistics.
There were a total of 355 serious crimes, 42 more than the 313 recorded in the 12-month period before accounting for the 13% increase. It also puts the number of serious crimes 12% higher than the 5-year average of 315.
The number of burglaries held firm with the same 286 as the previous period. There has been an increase in aggravated burglaries with 19 offenses more than the previous year, a total of 53.
It is important to note that the recent wave of robberies and car thefts in late May are not included in these statistics.
Another unsurprising increase concerns firearms offenses with 37 additional crimes compared to the same period the previous year.
There have been no reports of the firearms amnesty in March and how many firearms, if any, were recovered as part of that effort.
The only reductions included in the report were a 1% reduction in the number of robberies and a 20% reduction in the number of murders. There were 20 people killed in 2020-2021 compared to 16 during this period.
The drop in murders is at least cause for celebration, Commissioner Botting calling it “very welcome” and saying police will continue targeted operations throughout the year to bring the numbers down. He noted that while the police are working hard, other issues need to be addressed if they are to succeed in their crime-fighting efforts.
“While the police are at the forefront of law enforcement crime prevention and detection and Force officers and staff have worked very hard to combat the increase in crime committed by prolific and dangerous criminals, the societal issues that drive crime must be addressed to see a lasting reduction in crime, especially serious crime.
Yet the sense of urgency felt by the islanders seems to be missing for the police commissioner. Residents have openly said it’s the long-standing secrecy about the crimes happening, the continued negative destination security advisory and warning that’s so heavily dependent on tourism by the US Department of Homeland Security. , the low rate of crime detection and convictions and the high rate of individuals who seem to get away with murder, which creates unshakeable angst.
The bottom line is that a rising crime rate just isn’t under control.