Organized international crime has spread its tentacles to the Commonwealth Caribbean and has given rise to the new forms of criminality being experienced in our region. There is no doubt, that these new forms of criminality are rooted in the proliferation of illegal narcotic drugs. The drug trade has spawned its own crime and conduced to the commission of other offenses. For example, the systematic and organised traffic in illegal firearms and the rise in violent offenses against the person and against property are directly linked to the illegal drug trade.
The crime problem in any society is not the product of any one single factor, as there is no single explanation for crime. The dominant emotions driving many of the crimes that are seen today are greed and a desire for easy money.
Serious crimes in 2006 collectively consisted of 3,853 reports compared to 3,172 reports made in 2007 which shows a significant decrease of 681 or 18%. These crimes included Murders, Rape, Robberies, Theft, Carnal Knowledge and Burglary.
There were 97 murders reported in 2007 compared to 92 Murders reported in 2006 or a slight increase of 2% countrywide. All other major crimes showed a significant decrease. Belize City continues to be the main location of concern to the Department as it relates to crime. In 2007, 39 Murders were reported in Belize City compared to 35 Murders in 2006.
The Belize District recorded the most Murders for both periods with the Cayo District having the second most the Toledo District recorded the least.
The motive for these Murders has a cross section of reasons such as Robberies, Altercations, Misunderstandings (old beefs), Drug related and Domestic Disputes. Although altercations are the leading causes of Murders a number of Murders go undetermined.
Although there was a slight increase in the number of murders reported between these two periods the detection rate remains high. In 2006 the detection rate was 64% compared to 63% in 2007. There were a total of 76 persons arrested and charged with murder in 2006 compared to 82 persons in 2007. It is important to note that included in these figures are those that were charged jointly.
There were 38 Rape cases reported in 2007 compared to 44 rape cases reported in 2006 which indicates a decrease of 14%.
The number of Robberies reported countrywide reflected a decrease of 4%, with 526 cases reported in 2006 and 507 cases reported in 2007.
Burglaries also showed a decrease of 18% with 1,514 cases reported in 2006 and 1,244 cases reported in 2007.
During the month of December 2007, there have been 7 Murders reported countrywide compared to 12 in 2006. The breakdown of the murders by district is as follows; 3 in the Cayo District, 2 in the Belize District (1 in Belize City) and 1 each in the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts. Since the Police Department has commenced its Anti-Crime Christmas campaign targeting criminals countrywide serious crimes such as Robberies and Burglaries have decreased during this month. Robberies decreased by 1 report from 39 to 38 and Burglaries decreased by 9 from 97 to 88.
During the year 2007, Police seized 507 kilos of cannabis and 32 kilos of cocaine compared to 684 kilos of cannabis and 82 kilos of cocaine in 2006 a difference of 177 kilos and 50 kilos, respectively. In addition, Police destroyed over 23 thousand mature marijuana plants in 2007.
There was a decrease in the number of firearms seized during 2007 with 130 firearms compared to 234 in 2006. In contrast, there were a total of 75 firearms stolen in 2006 and 101 firearms stolen in 2007.
FATAL TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
The Police Department is viewing the recent rise in fatal road traffic accidents with great concern. The Department has instituted a number of proactive measures in the form of highway patrols and the issuing of pamphlets to drivers in an effort to curb this situation.
Compared to 2006, statistics show an increase in the number of Road Traffic Accidents reported countrywide in 2007. There were a total of 2,336 accidents reported in 2007 and 2,316 reported in 2006 or an increase of 20 accidents or 1%. From this figure; the year 2007, shows an increase in fatalities with 70 victims compared to 47 in 2006.
During 2007 the Cayo District recorded the highest number of fatal road traffic accidents with a total of 26 victims, Orange Walk recorded the second largest amount with 14 victims and the Corozal District recorded the least fatalities with 2.
INTERNAL AFFAIRS AND DISCIPLINE
Police officers are subject to both the law of the land and code of conduct or Standing Orders. An officer cannot break the law and then use as a defense the fact that he or she did so in order to carryout their duties. The purpose of the Internal Affairs and Discipline (IAD) is to carryout investigations to ensure that the integrity of the department is maintained. The outcome from an investigation is to remedy any deficiencies with discipline or internal changes, or to protect personnel when they have acted within the scope of their employment and under the established rules of the department.
So far there have been a total of 227 reports made against certain members of the Police Department during 2007, compared to 235 reports made in 2006. Of these, 189 cases from 2006 have concluded whilst 146 cases concluded in 2007.
- The department has intensified patrols in “hot spots” throughout the City.
- The increase of resources to effectively deal with the ongoing situation in Belize City. The recent passing out of Recruit Squad number 83 with majority of the officers posted in Belize City. Currently another recruit squad consisting of 81 recruits are in training that will render assistance during the upcoming General Elections.
- The formulation of the Citizens on Patrol (COP) program continues to be introduced Countrywide.
- The organization of Neighborhood Watch Programs continues throughout the Country
- Do the Right Thing Program for Youths at Risk
- The formulation of the Crime Information Hot line
- The establishment of the Yabra Citizen Development Committee (YCDC) which is a grass root organization geared to assist youths and students in the Yabra community.
- The recent initiative by Ministry of Home Affairs and the Police Department in the establishment of the Get A Life Program targeting youths at risk.
- The Department is seeking to acquire more vehicular resources to maintained continuous highway patrols and Vehicle Check Points (VCP) on the major highways in 2008, which will no doubt minimize the amount of road traffic accidents.
INDEPENDENT ENTITY ANTI- CRIME INITIATIVES
Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) initiates Anti-crime initiative in allowing customers to donate to crime stoppers through their electricity bills.
Once a customer has pledged an amount that quantity will be noted on their electricity bill and payment paid whenever paying their bill at BEL offices or any of the collection agents.