Crimes Against Tourists – Caribbean Governments Can’t Hush Up Victims Any Longer


Not So Long Ago Crimes Against Tourists Could Be Hidden – And Often Were. The Internet Is Changing That

There was a time before the internet when governments, news media and the police acted together to very efficiently cover-up crimes against tourists – not only in the Caribbean, but in vacation spots around the world. This cover-up was possible only because large media and news outlets were the sole source of public information about vacation crimes.

The reason for the conspiracy of silence was simple: each of the partners – media, police and governments – had an interdependent economic relationship where it benefited everybody to minimize the perception of crime at any particular tourist venue.

Money Talks

If you want to see where a good chunk of a newspaper’s revenue flows from, have a look at the travel section. No matter how highly an editor values journalistic integrity, once the newspaper owner explains “The way things are”, any editor can see that front page stories about tourists being shot, raped or robbed don’t mix well with the adverts for tropical vacations on sunny beaches.

Even the editors of the largest British and American newspapers feel the pressure to hide Caribbean crime … because the travel sections of their newspapers are filled with advertisements that pay their mortgages and sent their children to college.

Editors are not bad people, so they rationalize their actions to themselves by saying that tourist-based economies are incredibly sensitive to bad publicity, and only one crime does not make a crisis or trend. They tend to ignore vacation crime stories except for those that are high profile. The result is that British and American readers will see stories of the odd murder, but none of daily robberies, rapes or organized hotel thieves.

The impression given to newspapers’ readers is that one vacation destination is much like another as far as crime is concerned – and every society has a murder once in a while so we don’t really worry about that on a daily basis.


Policing In Tourist Destinations Used To Be About Managing The Perception Of Crime – Not Controlling Crime Itself

The internet is changing the ability of governments, police and media to control public perceptions of vacation crime. Have a look at St. Lucia Travel.ORG the website at the the top of this story.

The website was established by an American couple who were horribly assaulted while in their resort hotel room in St. Lucia. Both were beaten by intruders who broke into their Mago Estate Hotel room while they were sleeping. The wife was raped at gunpoint and they were lucky to be left alive. When it became obvious that the St. Lucia police were more interested in closing the casefile rather than finding the thugs, the couple established the website to tell the world.

The result? The St. Lucia Star newspaper removed all articles about the crime from the newspaper’s website… (Hey… is that journalistic integrity or what?)

But that didn’t matter – Google search “Mago Estate Hotel” and “violence” or “crime” or “complaints” and you will find dozens of articles online about the crime and St. Lucia vacation crime in general. The Washington Post also picked up on the couple’s website and did a story that is probably still causing vacationers to avoid St. Lucia and the Mago Estate Hotel.

Would the Washington Post have printed their story without the couple’s website? I doubt it. They probably wouldn’t have even heard about the story.

Interested parties can no longer effectively limit news of crimes against tourists, nor the economic damage that results when a vacation destination becomes known for violence and crime.

That should be the big lesson for Barbados and all tourist destinations.


What Does It All Mean For Barbados & The Royal Barbados Police Force?

As we stated in a previous BFP article Best Wishes to Barbados Tourism Minister Noel Lynch

Think “Tourist Safety – Security” and then compare Jamaica with Barbados. No contest. Barbados is a very safe country. Even our few “bad” areas aren’t really so bad. Jamaica has some of the most beautiful natural sights in the world – in truth, even prettier than Barbados – but many tourists won’t set foot on the island because, as they see it, Jamaica is just not worth the risk…

We in Barbados shouldn’t forget about that when the issue of policing comes up. The Royal Barbados Police Force should be the highest paid, best trained and best equipped policing organization in the Caribbean. The police are the true guardians and promoters of the most important segment of our economy. If the tourists don’t feel safe in Barbados, you can kiss goodbye to about 80% of our gross national revenue…

Stupid, Short-Sighted Choices Made By Owen Arthur’s Government

IF the Owen Arthur and the other BLP leaders had been intelligent, they would have made policing and crime control a priority for the last 12 years that they formed the Government. Those idiots don’t recognize that public safety and rule of law is the very foundation upon which everything else is built.

That the Barbados Government has not made policing a priority is there for all to see – over 100 officers short, policing services curtailed, “wages” that are an insult, experienced officers leaving for other organizations or getting out of law enforcement altogether and a deteriorating level of confidence in the ability of the police to deal with increasingly violent crimes.

Many of our officers even lack a proper uniform and cannot afford to purchase decent uniform kit even if they wanted to.

The Owen Arthur Government has been more concerned about controlling the perception of crime in Barbados than about controlling crime itself. As a result, our Royal Barbados Police Force is understaffed, under-trained and under-equipped.

Our police force is quickly becoming a third-rate banana republic organization that pays so poorly it is unable to attract anywhere near enough qualified recruits.

All Bajans and especially whoever forms the next government had better start paying attention to how vital policing is to our tourist-based economy… because if we don’t, those chickens are going to come home to roost.

BFP Photo by Shona: Accra Beach


Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Crime & Law, Politics & Corruption, Traveling and Tourism

13 responses to “Crimes Against Tourists – Caribbean Governments Can’t Hush Up Victims Any Longer

  1. respect for law and order

    Do you really think the government is willing to
    pay the police force a living wage when the politicians are busy trying to feather their nests while the overpaid ( can’t be fired ) judiciary is carrying out their wishes?

    How many small Barbadians do you see go to jail each month in The Nation for many years for stealing under $5,000.00 while politicians misappropriate, abuse or “tief” many times that
    amount of money on a regular basis.

    When there is no real integrity, acountability or leadership at the top because they all have their noses in the troughs, our legal system has become a tool of corruption rather than an arm of protection for the average citizen.

  2. John

    St. Lucia recently got nine high ranking British police officers.

    The fact is that for countries depending on tourism, the possibility of foreign involvement in crime cannot be ruled out.

    Barbados has perhaps a million “foreigners” who pass through over the period of a year.

    We need help from outside like St. Lucia and it doesn’t need to be pitched in the politically sensitive language of sovreignty and independence, it just makes common sense.

    The recently reported arrest of a Bajan for allegedly pimping for two Ukranian women I think highlights the need for help from outside.

    Are there more Bajans, or foreigners, who could be arrested on a similar charge?

    If there are, is there some entity controlling this prostitution?

    Is it Bajans who are availing themselves of this service or is it our “guests”?

    We need help with crime and we need it now!!

    Forget the long talk about sovreignty!!

  3. dont submit

    Crime and drugs will continue to hinder our developmential potential as long as we have people at the top who are involved. Some of those people who are charged with developing and implementing policies and laws are the same who are intimately involved in what they are supposed to be fighting and protecting Barbados from. These politicians make sure that they gain from every which way- corruption, crime, drugs, prostitution, you name it and they have their hands in it.

  4. Jane

    My niece spent a week in Barbados and was harassed so much on one of Barbados most popular beaches, Accra, that she decided not to go there again as she felt unsafe.

    We recommended another beach, directly infront of the old Sandy Beach Hotel, where she had no problems at all.

  5. It became obvious to me after I started living in Barbados that the press in particular, but media in general, downplayed coverage of crime against visitors. It seemed deliberate policy.

    Then the efforts to reduce beach molestation, and quick processing of cases while visitors were still on the island (to avoid that sector becoming more of a target) seemed to indicate that the problem was being faced squarely, and was admitted as a threat to this vital sector.

    Female visitors often whitewash their answers in questionnaires how much they are enjoying their stay. They answer “People are very friendly” when they really mean, “Men are far too familiar, pestering me on the beach. They sit down uninvited next to me, push their hand in my face to shake hands, to establish physical contact, and react as if I am racial if I am reluctant to respond.”

    Barbadians love to be told how great their island and people are (which they are) and too often resent an attempt to point out shortcomings.

    I remember going into Worthing police station for my driving permit and being spoken to so rudely that I said “Why are you speaking that way to me? I am not a criminal,” to be told “Maybe I should be sent on a course!” To say nothing about calling me by my first name in such a familiar manner as if they wanted to pick me up- right in front of my husband. A lot of training is needed.

    Far more sensitivity is needed by men here to judge when their interest will be reciprocated. Not all ladies come here “Looking for man”.


    “…The police are not special…”.
    Remember when the Barbadian police were protesting poor working conditions ,that Prime Minister Owen Arthur made that comment while addressing a group of people at Port St Charles?
    Does that not show what his government thinks of the force?
    No wonder they cannot attract anyone of calibre to the ranks of the RBPF!
    The PM also has also shown a gross lack of respect for the Customs and Immigration officers.
    We will suffer for it!

  7. Yam P][e

    the police just represent another group like the nurses up at QEH- oppressed till all they possess is the belts around them waist- how much ever support that is.(perhaps just a little bit of dignity for actually having a job, but not enough to pay dem full light bill)

  8. lex

    john we do not need foriegn police. what for? we should not follow st. lucia. st.lucia has a major crime and murder problem. barbados is not that bad and must keep it that way. barbados has the resources to handle crime. the prime minister however must treat our police with respect. by the way barbados police are doing an excellent job. other caribbean police forces should take a leaf from barbados cops manual.

  9. John


    I am not saying our police are doing a bad job. I have great respect for the job they do.

    However I think that some crimes in Barbados have nothing to do with Barbadians and have their origins elsewhere in the world. Remember the kidnapping of the British guy …….. solved by Bajan Police but really with origins in the UK.

    There is no way the Barbados police can keep tabs on what is going on worldwide and do their job here in Barbados.

    They need help.

    …. and two deaths in two or three months.

    While it may be coincidental and quite explicable, sometimes it is nice to know that there are another set of eyes watching.

  10. Nancy

    I have been the victim of 6 crimes in Barbados, yes I said 6! I have been robbed, had my home broken into and the police dont care whatsoever. I have reported all crimes and been blamed for having my home broken into. How do you blame the victim? No one ever followed up on the cases, no phone calls from the police afterwards and when I suggested fingerprinting, they basically laughed at me and said, “Lady, this aint New York”. Crime in Barbados is on the rise, you can be certain of that. Come on Barbados, get your heads out of the sand, the locals who feel entitled to take from tourists whatever they feel like is not going to change. The government does not take care of the people, so they feel they can steal. With World Cup coming, the thieves must be delighted with the prospect of so much money coming in…beware!

  11. Pingback: An Open Letter To The Royal Barbados Police Force - About Duty and Honour « Barbados Free Press

  12. Barbara Liebowitz

    very interesting i will not go there

  13. Ndumiso Nene

    We as the residents of South Africa are aware of crime in barbados, we would like to say thanks ‘we won’t visit that place anymore’!