The detection rate of crime is on an upward swing in St Lucia. That’s according to statistics released by the Royal St Lucia Police Force on Tuesday at a press conference held at Chesterfield House. Despite the disturbing number of crimes being committed, the force has shown steady improvement in their efforts to curtail the growing problem.
Of the 21, 459 incidents of crime recorded on the island in 2012, 46.4 percent were detected, which is an improvement from 2011, with Vieux-Fort boasting the highest numbers at 51.3 percent. Those crimes encompass minor and serious offences including firearms, sexual, property, forgery, fraud, public order, personal, drug, and those against administration of justice. The areas representing the highest number of cases were Castries, Gros-Islet and Vieux-Fort. This, however, was attributed to the fact that these are traditionally the highest populated parts of the island. During the presentation, Acting Sergeant of Police in the Central Intelligence Unit, Kimroy Renee, stressed that while the numbers were optimistic, there are still significant strides to be made in crime fighting.
“I could say with conviction that in law enforcement terms this is not a bad detection (rate),” he stated, adding, “Although I know we would appreciate if we could take it to 70 and 80 percent.”
Most impressive was the 65 percent murder detection rate recorded last year, which is a substantial increase from the 48.7 percent, recorded in the same category in 2011. Last year 37 murders were reported, a solid decline from the 39 and 44 cases noted in 2011 and 2010, respectively. Renee touched on a trend that has become an undeniable cause of concern for the department—which is the growing use of sharp objects as the weapon of choice among criminals.
“We’re still recording high numbers of incidents where sharp knives, sharp objects, cutlasses are used in committing crimes like murders and this is one of the approaches that the Police Force wants to take, a zero tolerance approach, to persons being in possession of such weapons and not being able to justify why they carry such weapons,” he said.
A handful of prominent cases were highlighted as examples of the department’s pursuit of justice for murder victims in the past year. Reference was made to Levi Wilson, who was gunned down on Carnival Tuesday, Canadian national Colin Peter who was bludgeoned to death during a walk on the Rendezvous beach, Thaemoo Eugene, whose unresponsive body was found in Forestierre and most notably 17-year-old Christal St Omer whose lifeless body was discovered in the Cap Estate area and whose death sparked public outcry. In those cases, the department has been successful in identifying and apprehending suspects, who are currently awaiting trial.
The drug war remains the Achilles heel of the Force but they have gained ground in their quest to control narcotics possession and distribution on the island. Increases were recorded in marijuana seizures, cocaine possession arrests, and marijuana plants destroyed. Most notably sea-based interdictions were on the rise on 2012. The collaborative effort of the different units within the Royal St Lucia Police Force was lauded for the marked success in this breakthrough. They are also trying to nip the problem in the bud by seizing money that they believe is being used to fuel the drug trade.
Following the presentation, Deputy Commissioner of Police Errol Alexander clarified that detection statistics were based on cases resulting in arrests and not necessarily convictions. He also acknowledged that the department still faced challenges moving forward in the war on crime especially on the technological side. He spoke on the difficulties they have encountered in working with the recently acquired Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS),
“In relation to this piece of equipment, it needs to be populated. If you put in a print and it was not populated long ago, then it might not pick up that print. We still have to go back to the manual (method) that we are trying to get away from,” he said. DCP Alexander went on to explain, “Remember, you have to put in information to be able to retrieve information. We have been doing that taking into consideration some of the prints that we have. As long as we photograph and take fingerprints of suspects, it goes in gradually. It is a gradual