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May 17, 2011

Number crunching: crime down, but murder up?

Last week Friday, the P.M. introduced a slew of controversial; some would say draconian, anti-crime legislation in the House of Representatives to address the deepening crisis in law enforcement. This week, the Police Ministry reacted with a release claiming that crime had actually dropped by seven percent this year compared to the same period last year. The question is: if crime is indeed down, why did the P.M. just introduce such sweeping anti-crime initiatives including constitutional amendments to expand preventive detention? Still yet, 2010 was a record breaking year with one hundred and twenty-nine murders, but so far 2011 has been even worse. According to statistics released by the Ministry of Police as well those on our own database, there were already forty-two murders on record at the end of April; that’s six more than last year’s thirty-six for the same period. The number of burglaries and rapes also increased when compared to last year. But the ministry’s statistics still say that overall, crime is down by seven point four percent. How is that possible?  The police seem to suggest it’s so because there have been fewer robberies, thefts and carnal knowledge cases. But while petty crimes have reduced, the numbers are no comfort to residents because murders continue unabated, particularly in the old capital. According to Assistant Superintendent Marco Vidal of the Gang Suppression Unit, the majority of the killings in Belize City have been gang related. Vidal also says the G.S.U.’s objective is to dismantle the gangs, but it’s going to take time.

Marco Vidal

ASP Marco Vidal, Head of Gang Suppression Unit

“For Belize City there are thirty-three murders and out of that twenty-five are in fact gang related. When we look at the statistics for last year, there were about twenty-seven murders up until present and twenty-three of those were actually gang related. So in effect we are only seeing two more gang related murders in Belize City, which to us is a show that the Gang Suppression Unit as well as other units in Belize City are in fact containing the gang violence in Belize City. It could have been worse than this.

Some of the main gangs are in fact well structured; some of them are operating a bit ad hoc. But in the general scheme of things most of these gangs are in fact structured and I think that because of that level of structure, it is a concern. But it is not only that that is of concern, but it is the different phases that they have moved on to, the evolution of the gangs. We have to remember that these gangs were not formed yesterday; these gangs have been formed for decades and it is only now that there is a direct focus on the gang problem. So there is a lot of work to be done and there are a number of things that we have look at in order to eventually dismantle this gang structure. But like I said we are working on these things.”

Vidal says there are thirty gangs operating in Belize, but only six are the main troublemakers.

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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5 Responses for “Number crunching: crime down, but murder up?”

  1. EMS says:

    Apparently, number crunching is the order of the day in the Jewel, perhaps they are looking at petty theft and certain anti-social behaviors, when in fact murders and dangerous crime are on the rise, wake up Belizeans.

  2. rod says:

    hang any murderer anyone in a gang should get automatic 20yrs in prison but if yyou do not bring back the hanging penalty all of this will be in vain and thhis gov. will keep failing because all of its leaders are a big failure to the country.

  3. islander says:

    Murder is the only crime the police department cannot lie about, simply because the media and families are keeping track of how many dead there are.

    Instead of investing time into lieing to the public the Police Department needs to invest time into actually stopping crime.

  4. once bitten twice shy says:

    they just rehired the Compol who claim crime was going up because the criminals wanted to sqew his statistical projection a few years ago. how can anyone in their right mind say crime is down in Belize. police stations all across the city are still closed down.

  5. BlackWidow says:

    How can they say crime is down but murder is up so what are the Police saying Murder is not a crime???? DAME UNEDUCATED FOOLS

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