At year end the Commissioner of Police Vernon Francois was very complimentary of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) which, according to him, amidst several challenges had done its utmost “resulting in major strides in its crime-fighting performance during the past year.”According to Francois local law enforcement had recorded a steady decline in criminal activity last year, particularly in the capital.
The police commissioner is also noting that the homicide rate for 2014 had gone down to 34 compared to 36 in 2013. The police also effected a number of successful drug busts in 2014 involving the trafficking of cocaine and the cultivation of marijuana.
In terms of crime reduction, the police commissioner says there was a reduction in major categories of crimes such as murders, burglary, sexual offences, stealing of motor vehicles and firearm offences. However, it should be noted that this reduction is visible in “reported crime” and may not reflect the number of actual offences.
Despite the numbers, the trend in violent crime continues to be very worrying as a number of brazen acts were committed in 2014. Among them was the attack on British tourist Roger Pratt who was killed on his yacht when three bandits reportedly attempted to rob the 62-yearold.
Then in April of 2014 there were the discoveries of at least three bodies. The body of Ollie Gobat was discovered in Cap Estate burnt beyond recognition while another body was discovered that month on Pigeon Island with its head reportedly decapitated. And it took several months before another body discovered in Marisule could be identified as that of Linus Constantine.
There were also several shooting incidents in 2014 resulting in two deaths in Soufriere in October.
The police force came under scrutiny for the shooting to death of two mentally ill men in 2014. The first incident occurred in Vieux Fort in June when Simon Gabriel was shot dead by police in an attempt to apprehend him. The second incident occurred in November in Bruceville Vieux Fort where police shot and killed 25 year-old Christopher Severine. He too was said to be mentally unstable.
While the police have reported a reduction in sexual offences, some observers note that this may not be the reality and that many cases may not be reported, particularly rape.
However a number of incidents of rape made the news in 2014 including that of two minors and an elderly woman. There was also the brutal rape and assault by three men of a 23-year-old hairdresser in Dennery. Then three men savagely raped a young woman on the Choc beach in December. No one has been arrested in any of these matters.
According to the police press relations department, the police commissioner will convene a press conference soon to present an overview of crime in Saint Lucia in 2014.