By Elesha George
The year 2019 has set a record for the least number of homicides committed in Antigua and Barbuda in a single year since 1999. With just three murders on record, a 75 per cent decrease from 2018, acting Commissioner of Police, Atlee Rodney suggests that it may be the lowest in any independent state in the world.
“We have recorded the lowest number of murders in the country for almost 20 years. The years that we had less than five murders were in 2000 and 2001, when we had four in both years,” Rodney said, as he opened the end of year press conference on Wednesday, January 8th 2020.
Serious crimes, to include gun related and violent crimes were said to have decreased by 42.48 per cent when compared to 2018. The Acting Commissioner credited this to the ongoing ability of law enforcement officers to remove firearms off the streets.
The overall number of crimes reported, however, increased by 634 reports. It accounted for a 28.79 per cent increase and drove the figures from 2,202 in 2018, to 2,836 in 2019. Acquisition crimes like petty theft, car break-ins, home invasion, and malicious damage dominated the reports, accounting for more than half of the crimes reported.
Of the more than 2,000 crimes reported, 1,063 were larceny, 579 house break-ins, 455 malicious damage, 75 praedial larceny, 66 robberies and 23 were unlawful sexual intercourse.
Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Albert Wade said most crimes (1,766) were committed in the capital, St John’s with the St John’s Police Station recording the highest reports and the Gray’s Farm Police Station recording the second highest.
Criminal activity also increased during the festive seasons like in the months of April and May during Sailing Week, and July and August during Carnival. On the other hand, Wade said, without offering figures, that when compared to 2018, there was a reduction in acquisition crimes in the month of December.
In addition, police data showed that 80 per cent of crimes committed against visitors (excluding cruise passengers), were of a petty nature. Of the 300,000 guests who visited the island in 2019, 57 of them reported crimes of theft or small offences. That represents .0019 per cent of those recorded. It however represents an increase from 36 (58.33%) in 2018.