The NDP’s explanation of crime in SVG is false.

By C. ben-David

In the previous crime essay, I raised the issue of whether the murder rate in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is globally high or low by comparing it to the murder rate in the United States of America. Such comparisons are important because if it turns out that we have a low global murder rate, trying to further reduce it may be futile. Conversely, if our murder rate is comparatively high, especially measured against similar countries, this would demand serious attention.

The same observations apply to other Vincentian crime rates.

But comparing a big and rich country like America to a minuscule and comparatively poor country like SVG is like comparing an elephant to ant: the huge number of differences between the two so overwhelm any similarities that their controlled examination and explanation is nearly impossible. It is far easier and scientifically defensible to compare objects, events, or places that have much in common so that the differences can be more readily enumerated and evaluated.

The data in Table 1 contains an enumeration of various crimes rates averaged over a five-year period in seven English-speaking Commonwealth Caribbean countries containing under 300,000 people and sharing a long history of plantation slavery based on the production of sugarcane and its byproducts. Each of these countries also shares a preoccupation with developing tourism, their single largest private-sector employer of labour and capital.

Table 1. Selected Reported Crimes and the Economy in Seven Caribbean Countries per 100,000 Population, 2012-2016

Antigua & Barbuda Barbados Dominica Grenada St. Kitts & Nevis St. Lucia** SVG
Population* ~90,000 ~285,000 ~72,000 ~106,000 ~54,000 ~182,000 ~110,000
Murders 10.4 (5) 8.4 (6) 16.9 (4)    8.3 (7) 44.4 (1) 18.0 (3)    28.4 (2)
Sexual Assault 56.9 (7) 62.5 (6) 154.2 (4) 195.1 (3) 390 (1) 144.6 (5) 193.5 (2)
Robberies 162.0 (1) 119.0 (3) 98.3 (5) 70.6 (7) 108.5 (4)    86.4 (6) 127.0 (2)
Shootings    23.8 (3)      9.8 (6) 13.1 (5)    1.1   (7) 67.4 (1) 14.7 (4) 34.4 (2)
Residential Burglaries    16.7 (7) 386.5 (5) 1,256.9 (1) 1,110.6 (2) 527.0 (4) 275.8 (6) 691.3 (3)
Drug Related*** 227.6 (3) 356.0 (3) 210.0 (6) 648.9 (1) 496.7 (2) 81.5 (7) 337.8 (4)
Total Crimes 497.3 (7) 943.5 (5) 1,745.3 (2) 2,034.5 (1) 1,323.0 (4) 623.2 (6) 1,386.9 (3)
Per capita GDP ($US)* 14,345 (3) 16,097 (2)    7,145 6)    9,469 (5) 16,725 (1)    12,671 (4) 7,030 (7)
Unemploy-ment

Rate (%)*

     14 (4)    10 (5)      23 (2)      24 (1)      5 (6)      24 (1) 20 (3)

*2016 only; **2013-2016 only; ***refers to convictions only.

As was true for Table 1 in the previous crime essay, the data in this table need to be carefully qualified and interpreted:

  • Except for drug crimes, the figures refer only to reports made to or by the police. They do not reflect either arrests or convictions for criminal activity. As elsewhere in the world, many crimes, including sexual assault, other physical assault, and crimes against property are never reported to the authorities and so remain unrecorded.
  • Placing data for these seven countries in the same table implies that the reported criminal acts made to or by the police bear a close relation to the rate of actual crimes, arrest levels, and conviction results. Given the presence of nearly identical law-and-order systems in these states, this assumption seems reasonable but is nevertheless unproven.
  • The data do not include all types of crimes in these countries. Instead, they were compiled from figures collected by a section of the United States Department of State concerned with the safety of Americans travelling abroad. Hence, their preoccupation is with the types of crimes usually committed against holiday and business visitors. Accordingly, “total crimes” refer only to the crimes listed in the table.
  • It is also reasonable to assume that the most common crimes in these countries are property crimes: shoplifting, pickpocketing, damage to property, fraud, theft of animals and agricultural produce, burglary, and other forms of petty and large-scale theft. The only one recorded here is the violent crime of burglary. Still, the rate of burglary may be a proxy for overall property crime because most burglaries would be reported to the police.
  • Petty theft is not reported – presumably because it is not a crime of violence, the main concern of the US authorities — even though it is undoubtedly the most common crime in these countries and would likely adversely affect visitors as much as local persons.
  • Sexual assault includes adult rape but is far exceeded by the combination of statutory rape (coerced or forced rape of a person under the legal age of consent), incest, and indecent assault (for example, groping someone on their private parts). Again, a great deal of sexual assault never enters the official domain.
  • As elsewhere, murders (and shootings) represent a minuscule portion of all crimes in the seven countries.
  • The data on per capita GDP and unemployment were added from other sources.
  • Missing from this data is the inequality rate – the proportion of the population below the average level of wealth held by members of the society – a figure surely collected but rarely published by Caribbean governments. This is unfortunate because relative poverty (rather than absolute poverty or unemployment) has often been given as an explanation of crimes levels.
  • The crime level of countries ranked from high to low (with ‘1’ being the highest and ‘7’ the lowest) is shown by the bracketed numbers. It is indeed worrying that SVG ranks second in this sample in the rate of four different violent crimes: murder, sexual assault, robberies, and shootings. Still, a much larger sample would be needed from both the Caribbean and elsewhere to judge whether this is truly high by regional, hemispheric, or global standards.

With these considerations in mind, the data in Table 1 do not suggest that crime rates in SVG are extreme or unrepresentative. Even the comparatively high Vincentian murder rate in Table 1 was still 56 per cent lower than the rate for St. Kitts and Nevis, a country more than twice as rich and with an unemployment rate nearly fourfold lower.

Looking elsewhere in the region, even the average of 28.4 murders per 100,000 people in SVG during 2012-2016 was seven times below the Jamaican average of 202 murders and five times below the Trinidadian average of 148 murders, respectively, per 100,000 population during the same five-year period.

While readers are invited to draw their own conclusions about the figures in Table 1, it is clear that: (1) the country with the most crime – Grenada – had the lowest murder rate; (2) the richest country – St. Kitts and Nevis – had the highest murder rate; (3) the country with the most robberies – Antigua and Barbuda – had the lowest burglary and total crime rates; (4) the countries with the highest unemployment rates – Grenada and St. Lucia – had the highest and second lowest overall crime rates, respectively; and (5) SVG was the second-most crime-ridden country next to St. Kitts and Nevis.

As for the last point, the rank order of the countries in the list compiling the figures for their individual placement in each category of crime is: St. Kitts and Nevis (13); SVG (15); Dominica (25); Grenada (27); Antigua and Barbuda (28); Barbados (29); and St. Lucia (31).

But this differs significantly from their rank order considering only the per 100,000 population overall crime rate: Grenada (1); Dominica (2); SVG (3); St. Kitts and Nevis (4); Barbados (5); St. Lucia (6); and Antigua and Barbuda (7).

The discrepancy between these two listings is because of the high quantitative variation in the components of crime among the seven countries such that there was no good relation between the rankings of different types of crime within and between countries. All of this is more evidence that explaining the rate of various crimes even within a single country is a very difficult undertaking.

It is also more evidence that simplistically explaining the complex crime issue on economic grounds alone, including linking it directly to unemployment, as the opposition New Democratic Party has repeatedly done over the years, is baseless which is why as far back as 2011 Hans King, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister of SVG, had to rightly rebuke the party for linking the murder rate to the country’s economic performance.

***

This is the fourth in a series of essays on crime and the economy in SVG. Find the rest here.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

30 replies on “C’bean crime facts destroy NDP’s argument”

  1. You wasted all that time comparing nonsense… No matter what you deflectors say, crime is still too high in our country… Take your time and try to provide solutions instead of comparisons and excuses…

    1. I am neither a criminologist nor a police officer nor a politicians. I am a humble reporter of the facts, whether you want to hear them or not.

      How can anyone provide solutions without knowing the extent of the problems?

  2. i often wonder why do we link SVG with the other Island, when comes to wrong, u see C Ben David, one crime is to much for SVG, we still in 2018, and we have over 30 murders, is this good for our country no, sometimes i feel we defend wrong and we speak out against it, we are a small state and therefore a strong message must send to person or persons who commit these acts, do you believe that if these wrong actions continue will be see investors coming to invest in SVG? so C Ben David, i believe that unemployment plays a roll in our crime in SVG, and i which the powers that be take this matter serious, and deal with them that need to be.

    1. You have a perfect right to believe that unemployment plays a roll in our crime level as far as certain crimes are concerned because that is not a false belief. What is false is exaggerate the role of unemployment while neglecting even more important causes of crime like family and community organization and our belief and value systems.

  3. ADDENDUM: Please note that I somewhat inadvertently called “burglary” a violent crime because it is generally treated as a “felony” which is defined as a crime of violence.

    NOTE: Some readers seem unaware that you have to click on the highlighted links to view the sources of data and other information.

  4. So in summary, the economic performance is dismal and those in authority seem not to know how to stimulate economic activity. Unemployment and crime rates are unacceptably high and we should just be satisfied, throw our hand in the air and expect our leaders to continue to do nothing and thirdly blame the opposition party for trying to analyse the situation while accepting the ineptitude of our government. How is that for a summary?

  5. More rubbish from the not Vincentian master of gloom and doom, C Ben David, Enemy of the people of SVG.

    However, Simple logic indicates that, in good economic conditions, criminal activity should decrease. The better a country’s economy means more jobs created, less unemployment, improving income levels and consequently less criminal activity.

    The government should not only aim for economic growth, but must ensure that more employment opportunities are created, wage rates are increased and basic necessities are provided to every citizen especially during good times, as well as tighten the enforcement of crime laws so that crime will be continuously reduced and under control.

    I could show you the mathematical equation that proves this but, I don’t think that you would understand it.

    1. This is not about your faulty logic; this is about what the data say. These are not my data. These are data supplied by the relevant Caribbean countries as shown by clicking on the highlighted link which would allow you to check the accuracy of my numbers.

      But perhaps you are not interested in accuracy.

      1. What accuracy? Anyone who believe you is quite stupid. You go from writing uncorroberated rubbish to writing shit and back again. Maybe you think that I live in the bush in SVG. I really can’t detect in your writing, the extensive training, which you claim to have.

  6. You could have made up those numbers. What mathematical models did you use? Can you corroborate those numbers? This is hardly credible. Strange.

    1. Your mathematical equations are what are found amongst economic theories. What Ben has done here does not require any mathematical models. What he should have done was to indicate the source(s) at the bottom of the table or have a reference to his source(s) at the end of his essay. I believe Ben deserves some credit for this. Although Econometrics/ quants alanysis is my field, I am not going to bash the brother for his efforts and ask for mathematical models. Let’s begin to find solutions.

    2. I did not make up these numbers. These are not my data. These are data supplied by the relevant Caribbean countries as shown by clicking on the highlighted link which would allow you to check the accuracy of my numbers.

      But perhaps you are not interested in accuracy.

  7. Crime is a major concern in many parts of the world. Human governments cannot solve the global crime problem. Jeremiah 10:23 assures us of that! No human ruler or anyone else has the ability to change a person’s heart condition. We can encourage a person to turn away from his wicked ways, but it is up to that person to choose to change for good. Psalm 92:7 states: “When the wicked spring as the grass, and when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; it is that they shall be destroyed for ever.” The time is coming when the all-powerful God, through Christ, will end all crime. Psalms 37:9, 10 assures us: “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.” The next verse (Psalm 37:11) adds: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” True Peace will come by God’s Kingdom. Matthew 6:10.

  8. C.Ben David I do not accept these data as reliable. I believe the murder rate is much higher than stated. Take for instance in my area alone last year two individuals have disappeared and although nobody was found, they were not included in the statistics. I believe that St Vincent murder rate is equivalent or higher than that of Trinidad.

    1. These are not my data. These are data supplied by the relevant Caribbean countries as shown by clicking on the highlighted link which would allow you to check the accuracy of my numbers.

      But perhaps you are not interested in accuracy.

    2. These are not my data. These are data supplied by the relevant Caribbean countries as shown by clicking on the highlighted link which would allow you to check the accuracy of my numbers.

      But perhaps you are not interested in accuracy.

  9. Predial lacenery alone if properly reported will cause the reported rate in property crime to increase astronomically . The data may not be correct.

  10. “Who knows it feels it”

    “Suffers don’t Care about Statistics” SVG is want we cares about and what effect us, Data can be interpreted to suits any one agenda.

    So we are witnessing daily cannot be over look by data. Sorry . (Black stalin ” Suffers don’t care “)

  11. A pathetic attempt to prove his point. Sounds more like a ULP propaganda piece.
    Mysteriously, Dominica and Grenada (with smaller populations) have twice as much residential burglaries as SVG. (Dem Dominicans and Grenadians really teef!). Next thing you notice: Grenada “drug related ” crimes nearly twice as much as SVG’s. ….really? You have to clap for dat!…ha ha
    The quotation: “if you repeat a lie often enough…”…..where did we hear that? Wasn’t it the PM’s communications person? And notice this piece was designed specifically to prove that the NDP’s argument was bogus. How sad that this piece of Trumpian logic passes for critical thinking.

  12. Vincy in New York says:

    c Ben just wasted 7 minutes of my life. 4 minutes reading the article and another 3 trying to make sense of the tabulated figures.

    First, 3 years of data do not prove your point that crime and a nation’s economic performance (unemployment) are not related. Rather the table shows that there is an inverse relationship between crime and GDP, with St. Kitts an anomaly . Again, I do not have much regard for GDP as a measure of economic performance.

    Second, your number for St. Lucia’s total crime is way off!

    Third, do you really believe that SVG’s unemployment rate is 20%?

    I am not NDP or ULP and I can care less about either party. However, you need to be more objective in your approach to these issues. Three years of mangled data with your suspect Math prove that crime and unemployment are not related? The NDP did not prove its point and you c Ben David did not do any justice to prove that the NDP is wrong.

    You tried even harder this time. Grade – C.

    1. 1. If you could count, you would know it was five years of data. I give you an F in arithmetic.

      2. I have never, ever said that there is no link between unemployment and crime, only that the link has been exaggerated by the NDP.

      3. The 20 percent overall unemployment figure among the working population is what is given by the relevant authorties. I did not make it up.

      4. In what way is my data mangled? There are simply gaps in the record over which I have no control.

      5. In what way is St. Lucia’s total crime way off? Please supply the correct data together with its source.

      6. I agree that per capita GDP is not a great indicator or cause of many things but it is the best economic one I have been able to find because data on inequality levels are rarely published by Caribbean countries.

      7. I could have presented far more anomalies than St. Kitts/Nevis from around the Caribbean and around the world. The results would show that crime is a very complex phenonenon with many different causes depending on many different local and regional factors.

      8. Why are you and others trying to shoot the messager because you don’t like the message but cannot offer a data-based counter message?

      9. Saying that I am wrong about something just because you don’t like what I’m saying is frankly a very ignorant way of “thinking” and “reasoning.”

      1. Vincy in new york says:

        CBen, I finally got around to look at the source of your data. You did a hacked job my friend. How can you take 1 year of GDP and compare it to years of criminal data?

        The data at the source was well laid out and you messed it up. 5 or 3 years do not matter because you alluded to 1 year and 4 years of data in your table.

        The source and your tabulation convey different analyses.

  13. Some of my fellow Vincentians are suffering from Ostrich syndrome. Let me try to put the analysis of the data in perspective in a simple way. If your neighbor’s house caught on fire and it has been burning five minutes before a spark catches yours. Your house is now on fire but the blaze is smaller than that of your neighbor’s, would you argue, because your neighbor’s blaze is larger than yours ,it is ok to leave your house and go over to look at your neighbor’s? Our African fathers have a saying, that what an old man see sitting on a stump, a young man would never be able to see standing on the bow of the highest tree. My fellow Vincentians, crime is like a fire a blaze. It doesn’t matter how large it is or how long it has been ablaze, the end result would be the same if you do not put it out immediately! Here is my suggestion, put the criminals to work each day and let them be paid their wages. After you have paid them, let the people whom they have hurt come and collect the wages from the criminals hands as long as the law decides they should serve for the crimes committed.. They would stop committing crimes if they don’t like working and handing over their wages to someone else. Let the government put this in action and you would see crimes go down.

  14. Urlan Alexander says:

    The good politics is to say that the NDP is wrong in linking crime to the unemployment /economic situation in SVG. As a vincentian i am horrifed with what is happening in my country. I dont know much about statistics but am afraid for myself and my family. It is too much now. I am not living in Antigua, Grenada or where else, I am living here in SVG and its scares the hell out of me.

    1. I have challenged Ben David when I believe he needs to be challenged. But it is quite clear to me that on this point Ben David is correct. He provides solid data, he is cautious in the claims he makes about the data,and he advises the NDP to be similarly cautious in making a case for a causal relationship between unemployment and crime. Causation demands rigorous proof and the untrained mind often confuses correlation with causation.

      1. Thanks for your support but the ones who need your help are the blind followers of our political parties, in this case the NDP which is trying to kill two birds with one stone by joining crime and the economy together at the hip.

        To be sure, there is a link between the two just as there is a link between crime and a dozen other variables. The important thing from a policy perspective is to separate the primary links from the secondary ones while rank-ordering all the links to see which are more important than others.

        A good example is the link between crime and absolute poverty. Most people unfamilar with the research literature would say that poverty causes crime without asking about the other important issue, namely what causes poverty.

        We know that in the Caribbean and elsewhere a higher rate of poverty is found in single parent households headed by women. Is it single motherhood — the absence of a father in the home as a role model for young boys and men — or is it the absolute poverty of the family regardless of the presence or absence of a resident husband that is the more important factor from a statistically significant perspective using a large sample of families?

        Stayed tuned for a discussion of this important issue.

        At the end of the day, what can and should be done to turn things around is beyond my meagre intellectual capacity or political power, as is has been beyond the prodigious intellectual capacity and political power of far smarter people than me, including our Prime Minister.

        All I can do, if that, is try to point out what the probable causes of different crimes are using all the credible resources and evidence I can find.

        Those who want to destroy me for doing that are only displaying their own pitfull ignorance.

      2. Vincy in New York says:

        What data? Have you taken a good look at the source c Ben provided and the mangled table above? c Ben tried to compact the data from the source and interpreted all wrong. He is taking 1 year of GDP and comparing to a maximum of 5 years of crime. How is that Math?

        His analyses are way off! Because his Math is way off. His Math is a tangled web. I look at c Ben’s source and compare it to his table above and come to different conclusions.

        Using the data provided, there is no way to prove any correlation because of the following reasons:

        1. Insufficient data. A maximum of 5 years is not enough.
        2. c Ben did no provide correlating GDP for the years in question.
        3. i have more important things to do than to show this guy how to think critically because he will not accept facts.

  15. Vincy in New York, you have to be a dunce or deliberately mischievous to repeatedly claim that I compared “one” year of GDP data to five years of crime data when I actually compared five years of each, as clearly shown in a table that revealed no clear relation between the two during the five year period.

    It is as clear as glass that had I used 20 years of data and showed no correlation between the variables, you would have said that I am using ancient historical data to obscure the current crime rate.

    When people are biased, or blind, or ignorant, as you are, no amount of evidence would ever change their mind.

    If you don’t believe me, ask Donald Trump.

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