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TTC Special: Crime is a public enemy in the Caribbean

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By F. Martin

TTC Service.- Paradisiacal Caribbean islands have a public enemy that threatens them: Crime.

According to the Interamerican Development Bank survey there are five islands in the Caribbean that face the highest crime rates currently. These are the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and Suriname.

The study, titled Restoring Paradise in the Caribbean: Combatting Violence with Numbers, is based on results of a new crime victimization surveys carried out in The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

“Three thousand individuals were interviewed in each of the five countries. With almost half of all crimes going unreported to the police, these victimization surveys provide a fuller picture of the prevalence of crime and its unique characteristics when compared to other regions”, IDB web page informed.

The highest victimization rates in the region for car theft, simple theft, robbery, and assaults were in New Providence (The Bahamas). Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago) has a relatively high rate of car thefts, robberies, and assault. Kingston shows medium-to-high rates for all categories except for assaults and threats, which are higher. Bridgetown (Barbados) and Paramaribo (Suriname) show comparatively low rates for most types of common crime, the report added.

Experts on the subject of criminality in the Caribbean indicate that non-violent property crimes in the region are low. The average rate of individuals victimized by theft of personal property, in a 12-month period, in the Caribbean is 4.8%, compared with the global average of 8.1%. Rates of burglary (4.1%) are significantly lower in the Caribbean than in Africa (8%) and Latin America (5.9%).

But violent crime rates, on the other hand, are among the highest in the world.

Interamerican Development Bank survey found that the average rate of victimization by assault and threat (6.8%) is higher than in any other region, including Latin America (4.7%). Nearly one in three said they had lost someone to violence.

Guns are used about twice as often in robbery and three times as often in assault in the Caribbean as compared with the global average. Violence is concentrated in certain neighborhoods and demographic groups, often far away from tourist resorts. Certain demographic groups are repeatedly victimized, mainly 18 to 25-year-olds who live in poorer areas.

The Caribbean, one of the most beautiful regions in the world that annually attracts millions of tourists, fights to reduce the threat. Nonetheless experts blame poverty on a factor that prevents the incidence of crime from being reduced. They believe that the world’s highest violent crime rates remain a cause for concern.

The figures are impressive, but a good part of the experts in the matter stress that crime in the Caribbean is more prevalent than some realize, violence rarely touches the nearly 26 million tourists who go there every year.

Among the islands with very low crime rates, especially violent crime, are mentioned often by experts Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin/St. Maarten and St. Barts.

Among the most important destinations considered as very quiet in terms of crime is Cuba. International studies indicate that gun crime is virtually nonexistent and murder rates are below those of most Latin American countries.