|The secret crime statistics|
Published: Jul 20, 2012
Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade said yesterday to The Nassau Guardian that he was “not prepared” to release crime statistics, but insisted that crime has decreased in the first half of the year.
His comments came amid calls to substantiate his statement that crime is down by six percent.
When The Guardian asked him to provide the statistics yesterday, Greenslade said he was “not prepared to release them” just yet.
Asked when he would be prepared to do so, he said, “I'm not willing to say at the moment, except to tell you that I will release them. I'm not prepared to release them today, but I will release them.”
The issue of releasing crime statistics has been a problem the media has had with various political and police administrations. The powers of the day think they own the information and release it when they feel it is advantageous. This leads the media and public to mistrust police and national security officials.
This is unfortunate and unnecessary. Simply put, the data should be released to the public via the media on a quarterly basis. The public has a right to know what is happening in our communities. The information is not a secret for the commissioner or national security minister of the day to keep in a locked room.
When we as citizens know what trends are up, we can change our behavior in order to lessen the likelihood of being victims of crime.
Former Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest released crime stats regularly, whether in Parliament or at speaking engagements. However, there was no structure to the release. If he felt like it he did; if not, he didn’t.
The public deserves better than this on this simple issue. The Central Bank has a regular reporting structure with public information. It has monthly and quarterly reports. Sometimes the information released is good news and sometimes it is not. Regardless, it is released.
When the government and police withhold data, the public gets suspicious and we all wonder why it is being withheld.
There is much goodwill towards Commissioner Ellison Greenslade. However, he will lose some of this goodwill if he continues to tell the public it cannot examine the crime stats.
National Security Minister Dr. Bernard Nottage is perceived as a data-driven thinker. We hope he sees the wisdom of simply instituting a quarterly release system regarding the crime data so the media does not have to go through this childish game with police over information that is critical to all citizens of The Bahamas.