Commissioner of Police Colin John has commended the rank and file of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force for a decline in reported crime in 2019.
According to police statistics, in 2019, there were 19 murders, down from 34 in 2018 and 40 in 2017.
The country, however, recorded some 24 homicides this year, including the death of Arnotte Hope, 58, of Pole Yard, who died on Saturday, one day after the police chief’s speech.
There was a reduction in the other categories of serious crimes also, with the number of reported robberies standing at 94, down from 135 in 2018, which had represented an almost doubling of the 71 recorded in 2017.
The 12 cases of wounding with intent reported in 2019 were less than half of the 26 reported in 2018, and about one-third of the 34 cases reported in 2017.
And, in 2019, there were 21 reported cases of aggravated burglary, compared to 37 in 2018 and 32 in 2017.
“… I just want to applaud the members of the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force for the hard work that they are doing. The reduction in crime can be attributed to the hard work, the dedication, the loyalty and the proactive policing that we are employing in the organisation,” John told the annual police awards dinner, held in Kingstown, on Friday, under the theme “Rewarding the Outstanding while Motivating the Aspiring”.
The most outstanding officer at each police station was presented with a plaque.
“And once again to the members of the organisation, I am saying thank you. It can also be attributed to the level of training that we are receiving. We have benefitted from training from local bodies, regional bodies – such as the Regional Security System, CARICOM Impacts, and international bodies such as Interpol,” John said.
Police statistics shows that fewer crimes were reported in four of the six policing divisions, with only the Grenadines and North Western Divisions registering more crime in 2019 than in 2018.
Union Island accounted for the higher crime stats in the Grenadines, where 216 crimes were reported in 2019, compared to 168 in 2018, and 120 in 2017.
In Port Elizabeth, Bequia, the number fell by six to 166, compared to 179 in 2017, while in Paget Farm, the other police station on that northern Grenadine island, 39 crimes were reported this year, compared to 50 in 2018 and 33 in 2017.
At the Mustique Police Station, six crimes were reported, one less than in 2018, while the figure was 20 in 2017.
At the Canouan Police Station, there were 57 reports of crime in 2019, compared to 71 last year when the figure fell by almost half, in comparison to the 138 reported in 2017.
In the North Leeward Division, there was an almost quadrupling of the number of crimes reported to the Spring Village Police Station.
In 2019, police in that village received 41 reports of crimes, compared to 11 in 2018 and 42 in 2017.
Meanwhile, in Chateaubelair, the only North Leeward town, police received reports of 147 crimes in 2019, up from 115 in 2018 and 149 in 2017.
There was a slight decrease in Rose Hall, where police received 34 reports, four less than in 2018; compared to 43 in 2017.
The statistics from 2017 to 2019 show that in the Central Division — which includes the Criminal Investigations Department in Kingstown, the Questelles Police Station and the Narcotics Branch — 2,113 crimes were reported.
This was 290 cases fewer than in 2019, when the figure was 2,403, which was an increase over the 2017 figure of 2,283.
In the South Central Division, which includes the Calliaqua and covers most of the medical colleges and the hotel and tourism belt, there were 1,442 crimes reported this year.
This was a decrease from 1,520 in 2018, which was, in turn, an increase over the 2017 figure — 1429.
The only station in this division to register an increase in the number of reported crimes was Stubbs, where the figure moved from 289 in 2018 to 312 in 2019, compared to 234 in 2017.
Calliaqua, Mesopotamia and Biabou police stations all registered decreases, with the number in Biabou falling from 305 in 2018 to 250 this year, which was also less than the 2017 figure — 259.
In the Eastern Division, which is comprised of Colonarie, Georgetown, Sandy Bay and Owia, the number of reported crimes fell from 826 in 2018 to 744 in 2019; compared to 959 in 2017.
In the South Western Division — Vermont, Layou, and Barrouallie — the figure fell from 384 to 357 in 2019, while it was 374 in 2017.
The police chief said that his officers have received training in a number of areas, including intelligence gathering, cybercrime, tackling transnational crime, drug interdiction, diving, hostage negotiation, and explosive device detonation.
“And we have benefited from a facility where we can train more persons. In the US, they have sponsored a piece of equipment and we are able to conduct online training, so we can train like 20, 30 persons one time by virtual network,” he said.
“We have very hard working police officers and I just want to say thanks to you for your support, your guidance, your assistance. As I often say, I will treat every man and every woman as a big man or a big woman until you prove otherwise,” John told the awards dinner.
“Sometimes I may have to show the less soft side of me, but I never promise anybody that you will never see that side. But I really hope and I try as far as possible not to utilise that part of me but it is very much a tool in the arsenal that I utilise from time to time,” John said.
The top cop described as “snags” and “glitches” the recent case of police officers being charged with various criminal offences.
“They came about, we faced it head-on, we took it on the chin, we allow the authorities to do what they have to do. The matters are before the court, I will not comment on it further and even more so, this is not an event to dwell on the negatives,” said John, a lawyer and former prosecutor.
“This is an event to accentuate the positives and that’s what I am doing tonight. So I just want to say that despite of these negatives, we have had a lot of positives throughout the year 2019 and before and I just want for us to concentrate on all these positives,” he said.