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Jul 2, 2008

Police statistics cites Belize City as country’s murder capital

Story PictureIncest and robberies are crimes that have long plagued the Belizean community and no one is immune but new police statistics show that it will take more than just the work of the force to take a huge bite out of crime.

Gerald Westby, Police Commissioner
“We have compared the period from January to June of both years 2007-2008 and we notice that the murders, yes it’s marginal, but it has gone down four percent.”

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting
According to the police department’s crime summary, fifty murders were committed in 2007 as opposed to forty-eight in 2008. Channel Five’s unofficial count has registered a whopping forty-four murders since the start of the year alone. Police statistics show that Belize City continues to be the country’s murder capital. During January to June of 2007, Belize recorded twenty-two murders, of that number shots blasted eighteen people who lived on the southside of the city while only four northside residents were murdered. There were a total of twenty-eight rapes reported in 2007, reflecting a decrease of ten cases or thirty-five point seven percent in 2008, cites police.

Gerald Westby
“There are more than twenty-eight sexual offences because you have unlawful carnal knowledge, carnal knowledge, rape, incest, you have indecent assaults that are sexual offences. So there would be a greater number of reported sexual related offences. But what we categorise as rape is when there’s no consent being given and that is the number that has been reported.”

Westby attributes the rise in carnal knowledge cases being reported to the education and awareness efforts done by the Women’s Department. Yet many of these cases go cold in large part because of flaws in the system.

Gerald Westby
“One of the main impediments is the development of our forensic capabilities because if we can complement the witnesses I’m certain that witnesses would be less inhibited because they know that they have supporting evidence. People would see more conviction. So we need to develop the D.N.A. forensic, the ballistic forensic and unless these things come on stream we’ll forever have these low conviction rate.”

Keeping the city safe is becoming a greater challenge for the police, an issue that has long resonated with city folks, creating a fear in many residents not wanting to leave their homes at night. On May thirtieth, Assistant ComPol Allen Whylie, received a dozen bicycles for a new initiative to make city streets a whole lot safer.

Asst. ComPol Allen Whylie, O.C. Eastern Division (30th May, 2008)
“There will be four precincts created where each of those precincts will have their own complement of officers to do beat patrol duties, mobile patrols, traffic duties, C.I.B. and Special Branch. So those precincts will be self contained. They’ll be able to deliver all levels of policing services.”

A month later the police haven’t been able to deliver the level of police services.

Gerald Westby
“The city has grown, it has expanded that is why we came up with the precinct police. In other words, that we will assign the building on Plues Street that is on loan to human services. We’re hoping that we can get that and then we have a set of officers that patrol from out there, patrol the three divisions, the three adjoining divisions. Then we have another precinct here at Raccoon Street. Then we have one at Caribbean Shores and one on Queen Street. But we would have liked to start on the southside because it’s the southside where we have most of the problem. But you’re right Ann-Marie, if we cannot have the building in time then we’ll start with other areas and I’m glad that you ask me that question because we do not want to give the perception that we’re giving all the attention to the northside and not the southside.”

Westby is hoping an import like Harold Crooks, a former police officer who rose to the rank of superintendent in Jamaica, can provide some answers to his department.

Ann-Marie Williams
“What is Mister Crooks’ terms of reference? What exactly he’s doing for crime and how do you bets explain a man coming from Jamaica where there is such a high crime rate? He couldn’t get a hold of the crime, what will he do here?”

Gerald Westby
“Well, He’s looking at the police department, doing an internal audit to see what we could do differently to enhance the service that we’re providing to the public. We’ve had very candid discussions. He has his own charter. He has been going around and doing what he thinks best to get a good appreciation, a good feel of what is happening. He wants to look at the police in a holistic manner to see what we can do differently to reduce crime.”

Ann-Marie Williams for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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