Statistics bamboozle Commissioner Dottin… or maybe it’s the other way around
A smiling Commissioner of Police announced that the latest statistics showing a reduction in crime were “very gratifying”. But as unquestioning reporters lapped up Dottin’s every word, a different story was playing itself out just north of Grape Hall where yet another citizen decided that it just wasn’t worth his time to report a theft to the police.
One of our friends got a little lazy last week and left two lightly used truck tires on rims at the side of his home for only a few days instead of taking them to someone who had a use for them. He came home last Wednesday night to find the tires gone and he felt like slapping himself upside the head for his foolishness. You know how it is ’bout hey: you can’t leave so much as a garden hose outside overnight or it will be gone.
Why didn’t my friend report the crime to the police?
“Why bother, nothin happen” was his answer. That reasoning is more prevalent in Barbados than ever as our understrength and underpaid police force struggles with a triple onslaught of inadequate training, ancient equipment and increased demands for service and professionalism.
My friend’s reason for not reporting the theft is that, more and more, the police simply don’t come when called in Barbados, and when they do “take a report”, that’s usually the end of police action. And that is why my friend is part of Commissioner Dottin’s hyped “2 percent drop in crime”. Victims are giving up on reporting minor crimes to the police because the victims perceive it is not worth their trouble.
So if the Commissioner says that Barbados had almost a 2 percent reduction in REPORTED crimes as fewer and fewer police officers patrol, we have to ask: If we eliminated more police officers and had fewer officers to take reports or patrol, wouldn’t that lead to even greater “reductions” in reported crime?
The Commissioner is playing a dangerous game taking credit for the “reduction” in REPORTED crime. To take credit he has to ignore the demographic trends that are causing a reduction in the number of young males (a segment of the population with the highest crime rates) as well as the number of citizens who have given up on reporting minor crimes to our police.
Barbados is a great place to live and is relatively free of major violent crimes of the types seen in for instance, Trinidad. That is a cultural factor as much as anything – but if the police want to take credit for a 2 percent reduction in crime, they had better be prepared to answer how much of that reduction is as a result of citizens giving up on reporting crime to the police.