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Police at a murder scene in Lowmans Bay on Aug. 15, 2022.
Police at a murder scene in Lowmans Bay on Aug. 15, 2022.

Almost three quarters of the murders recorded in St. Vincent and the Grenadines between 2012 and 2023 remain unsolved, according to statistics released by police on Wednesday.

Police said there were 408 murders in the country during that period, 147 (36.03%) of which were “solved”.

The document, however, gave no indication of whether “solved” means that an arrest was made or that someone was convicted of or admitted to the crime.

The data show that 294 murders, 72.06% of the total, remain unsolved.

The year 2015 has the highest solving rate, with police recording as solved 15 of the 25 murders reported.

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2014 and 2022 were statistical ties for the lowest percentage solving rate, with 21.62% and 21.43% respectively.

2023, when the country recorded the highest number of murders — 52– had a solving rate of 23.08%.

The data show that firearms were used to commit most of the murders during that period, with 64% or 288 murders having been committed using firearms.

Only 15% (44 of 288) of those firearm-related murders have been solved, police said.

Of the 29 murders as a result of chopping, 20 were solved, while 53 of the 61 stabbing murders were solved.

The other categories of murders on the list were blunt force trauma, a total of 49 — 34 of which were solved.

And for murders committed by “other means”, there was a total of 23, only five of which were solved.

However, police appear to use the terms “murders” and “homicide” interchangeably, although they do not mean the same thing.

Murder refers to the malicious premeditated killing of a person by another. On the other hand, homicide is simply the killing of one person by another.

The law distinguishes between various categories of homicides, including murder and manslaughter. Manslaughter generally refers to a killing without malice or premeditation.

‘crisis’ as police try to solve gun-related murders

The police statistics shows that for every year between 2012 and 2023, firearms have been used to commit most of the murders in the country.

This ranged from 43 of the 52 murders committed in 2023, to 11 of the 19 murders in 2019 — the fewest murders in the review period.

The data also show that the use of firearms to commit murders have been trending upwards since 2019.

“The RSVGPF is currently going through a crisis as the organisation struggles to apprehend and prosecute suspects for gun-related murders,” the report said.

“This has been going on for the past decade as more and more firearms find their way into the country, coupled with some unscrupulous activities.”

The police data show that whereas there is an 87% solving rate for stab-related murders, only 15% of gun-related homicides were solved between 2012 and 2023.

“This can be attributed to the fact that there are less witnesses cooperating with the police in firearm-related matters,” police said.

“Unlike in a situation where a homicide is committed using a knife or a cutlass, where most of the time there is likely an altercation leading to the incident, more witnesses are present hence, the police better benefit from information leading to the apprehension and prosecution of perpetrators of these categories of offenses.”

Police said that on average, annually, they make more than 25 firearms arrests, which include the seizure of firearms.

“Given our high firearms homicide rate which has fluctuated over the past decade and now is at an all-time high, it is likely that some seized firearms may have been used to commit murders in the past,” the report said.

“This suggests that possible forensic information or evidence may still be obtained from these firearms. Since eye witnesses are basically non-existent in these matters, the RSVGPF need to turn to forensics.

“Officers should be better trained in the collecting and preservation of exhibits, local laboratories including ballistics and DNA should be established. Crime scene investigators should acquire training in the classification of figure prints, tactical units should maintain an unmitigated presence in communities with high prevalence of gun related activities,” the report said.

At the same time, crime generally is trending downward, the statistics shows, with 2018 and 2022 bucking the trend.

In 2012, 7,540 crimes were reported to police, compared to 4,134 in 2023.

“The pandemic of 2020-2022 should also be considered a contributing factor in the continued downward trend,” police said.

In 2020, police received reports of 5,149 crimes. This number fell dramatically to 3,997 in 2021, the year when La Soufriere also erupted, displacing about one-fifth of the nation’s population, many of whom stayed in state-managed emergency shelters.

The number of crimes reported in 2022 rose to 4,070 and 4,134 in 2023.

As regards 2023, the police drew a link between their stepped-up activity after the mass murder in Kingstown that claimed five lives and a significant decrease in the number of crimes reported.

The report noted that for the first seven months of 2023, the number of crimes reported per month averaged 367.

“Then for the months of August to December, a significant decline in the figures can be observed (a decline of 18.8% in August, 15.6% in September, 11.4% in October, 13.1% in November and 15.8% in December) from monthly crime report average of 367 recorded from January to July.

“This decline has been attributed to the stepped-up police activity across the country, following the mass homicide event of July 21, 2023,” the report said, adding that as police activities were being gradually relaxed, the trend fluctuated through to the end of December even though the figures have still remained below the averages of 367.

“Credence is therefore given to the fact that the availability of a heightened police presence in our communities helps in the reduction of crime and provides for a safer St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the report said.

4 replies on “Almost three-quarters of the 408 murders in SVG since 2012 unsolved”

  1. Fun fact about crime: somebody always knows who the suspects are. Criminals all live somewhere. They have parents, siblings, relatives etc. who may know that their beloved male relative is a gang banger.

    But, who wants to risk not living another day? Nobody. So, the bullets will continue to fly uninterrupted.

  2. People so sacred of giving such information to the policr , it’s alleded that they tell the criminals who gave them any information.

  3. A combination of police incompetence, indifference, corruption, and laziness and the well-founded unwillingness of our citizenry to inform the authorities about the identity of the perpetrators in our small, face-to-face society where everyone knows everybody else’s business account for this low murder solve rate.

    More particularly, a career in policing attracts the worst of the worst while our rock bottom sense of community solidarity plus a preoccupation with protecting evil family members means this trend will only get worse over time.

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