Soon there will be no crime in Barbados – Make that no “reported” crime

Commissioner Dottin cheerful

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.

Further Reading

Top Cop Reports Dip In Crime


Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Police

11 responses to “Soon there will be no crime in Barbados – Make that no “reported” crime

  1. Hard Facts

    Great work BFP, you are Bang on! ….pun intended.

  2. Red Lake Lassie

    Good article BFP. Why couldn’t the reporters ask the commissioner “How do you know the reduced reports aren’t a result of people giving up on calling the police?”

    What would be Dottin’s answer to that? Bajans will never know because none of our so-called journalists would ask the question!

  3. timbuktu

    I see what is happening. When reported crime goes down it is because of the fine police officers. When reported crime goes up, it is because of societal factors and never because of poor police officers.

    Got it!

  4. Truth and recoil

    Bajan police will continue pretending to work so long as the government continues to pretend to pay them.

  5. No Spin

    Pray tell how one goes about measuring “unreported crime”? All around the world “crime figures” are based on “reported crime”, yet super sleuths that you are at BFP you would want journalists to ask the Commissioner to basically speculate on the UNKNOWN number of people who do not report crime. If that is not nit-picking on your part BFP, then I don’t know what is.
    Based on the foolishness you’re peddling here, the scenario would have gone something like this: Journalist -“Commissioner Dottin, while the recorded statistics of reported crime show a reduction in overall crime, how do you account for the unreported crime?”
    Commissioner Dottin – “In the absence of statistics on unreported crime, the Force can only speculate on the level of unreported crime, Do you have magical statistics on those who have not reported crimes – if so please share them with the rest of Barbados.”
    Bottom line BFP, your ranting is purely nonsensical at best. Perhaps you should produce your magical statistics of “unreported crime” for the rest of us. Oh wait….but that would be impossible right – since it CAN’T BE QUANTIFIED IF IT HASN’T BEN REPORTED! Duhhh!

  6. Hants

    @No Spin

    You can measure unreported crime by reporting that crime that is unreported is not reported until it is reported.

    Especially after drinking half a bottle of riesling.
    ah uh am yuh know what uh mean.

    I am sure BFP will decide the decision to tell you what they decide to tell you about what they meant.

  7. BFP

    Hi Hants,

    A few moments on Google will reveal oodles of information on the subject of unreported crime, and how it varies from community to community depending upon a number of factors of which confidence in the police is paramount.

    In other words, a drop in reported crime can be indicative of a drop in the public’s confidence in the police force – not a true drop in crime.

    Here’s a start for you from Wikipedia, but some criminologists have spent their lives studying what is called “dark figure crime”…

    The dark figure of (or for) crime is a term employed by criminologists and sociologists to describe the amount of unreported or undiscovered crime, which calls into question the reliability of official crime statistics.

    Victim studies, such as the research associated with the British Crime Survey (BCS), are recent attempts to provide an insight into the amount of unreported crime.

    Not all the crimes that take place are reported to, or recorded by, the police. Given this, sociologists refer to the gap between the official level of crime and the amount of crime in the community as the ‘dark figure’ for crime. For a crime to be recorded at least three things must happen:

    Somebody must be aware that a crime has taken place.
    That crime must be reported.
    The police or other agency must accept that a law has been broken.

    It is now widely accepted by social researchers that official crime statistics have significant limitations. These include:

    1. Some crimes are not reported to the police because
    The general public regards them as too trivial
    The victim finds the matter embarrassing
    Individuals are unaware they are victims (e.g. fraud or confidence tricks)
    Lack of confidence or trust in the police
    A fear of reprisals or victimisation
    The victim may take law into own hands – a form of rough justice
    Children who may not understand issues
    Victim may not want to harm the offender (e.g. domestic violence and abuse)

    ******* That’s a start for you Hants. (And for you too, Commissioner Dottin!)

    This looks like pretty basic stuff in professional policing and that makes me think that Mr. Dottin knew he was shining us on with his cheerie assessment.

  8. Unreported crime(s) as in e.g. the evil rants on BFP and my place from fanatical & racial BLP supporter(s) during Jan 2008 Vote

  9. BFP

    Hey Ian

    Not to forget the death threats against Mr. and Mrs Loveridge were reported in writing to the police. According to wat Adrian wrote at BFP, Commissioner Dottin and his underlings did nothing to investigate the threats.

  10. In reality

    Notwithstanding your Wikipedia definition of unreported crime, the fact remains that there is nothing in place to accurately measure unreported crime.
    As far as you are concerned BFP, you seem to believe that the number is significant i.e. that for every crime reported there may be another that is not but unfortunately you do not have any statistics to back up that or any other claim.
    Based on your own information, it appears that organisations not affiliated to police forces are the ones who typically go about trying to determine such numbers – perhaps you can take that on as a pet project because it clearly calls for significant resources on the ground and otherwise.

    And just as another tid bit for you, when rival gangs either steal money from each other or shoot up each other and the gang members refuse to go for medical attention through the official channels, I guess one could argue that those are “crimes” too, but do you really expect drug dealers A B and C to report that they have been robbed by rivals or that realistically, they will more likely take the law into their own hands.
    The bottom line here is that the Commissioner can only give the public an assessment of the crime situation based on what is reported. To ask him to speculate on whether an UNKNOWN NUMBER of persons who do not report crimes is an indication that people do not have any confidence in the Police Force is a bit of a stretch at best, for the simple reason that such figures are unknown.
    Just because you know of ten or even twenty people who have been victims of crime and failed to report those crimes does not indicate that the whole place is going to hell in a hand basket.
    Sweeping generalisations are dangerous and can cause unnecessary panic.
    Barbados is not different from other jurisdictions in using REPORTED crime as the yardstick for measuring crime levels on the ground.
    While it would be a beautiful thing to know the real figures of those who do not report crimes, nobody can really know the real answer to that.
    Just as how you ask whether the level of unreported crime is an indication that some sections of the public may not have confidence in the Force to deal with their reports, one could equally argue the reverse – which is that the level of reported crimes may be an indication that a large section of the pubic has confidence in the Police Force enough to bother to report the crimes.
    Barbados’ figures have remained fairly realistic and consistent over the years and unless you have some compelling statistical evidence to refute those statistics, then I humbly suggest you are merely being disingenuous at best and unfair to the members of the fourth estate who attended the press conference.
    Do have a good day!

  11. ninemikemike

    You refer to the ‘triple onslaught of inadequate training, ancient equipment and increased demands for service and professionalism’.

    It is actually a quadruple onslaught, the fourth and most debilitating element being utterly incompetent leadership.
    Dottin is an ass – a pen-pusher, not a thief-taker, a time-serving jobsworth with no qualification based on ability, performance, or keenness to do the job. The man is a disgrace to the RBPF, and to the country. Why on earth he has not yet been put out to pasture is a mystery to thinking Bajans.

    This is a man who makes law behind the legislature’s back, and has taken it upon himself to decree that no gun licence applications should be decided upon by anyone but himself – and he refuses to to do so. Perhaps the chump’s rationale is that if he doesn’t make a decision, he cannot be wrong, or perhaps his motives are more sinister.
    No matter – he is being paid to do a job, and is deliberately failing to do it. He should be given the option of resigning or being sacked.

    I know, I know – I shan’t hold my breath.