|Turnquest: Police should release crime stats|
Royston Jones Jr.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jul 21, 2012
Former Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest said there is no “justifiable reason” for the failure of police to produce crime statistics for the first half of the year, especially if they substantiate reports that crime has decreased.
However, Minister of State for National Security Keith Bell said Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade has sole discretion in releasing those statistics.
He added that Greenslade’s statement on Monday that serious crime, with the exception of armed robbery, is down six percent overall from the beginning of the year through the end of June, compared to the same time last year, appears to be accurate.
Asked whether the Ministry of National Security directed the commissioner to withhold the data, Bell replied, “Absolutely not.”
“We are not interfering with the commissioner of police,” he said. “Why would we tell the commissioner that? We want him to release it but we are not going to tell him when to release it. That is his discretion and he has always maintained that.”
On Thursday, Greenslade said he was “not prepared” to release the crime statistics just yet, although he maintained that crime has decreased in the first half of the year.
“One would have thought that if those were the circumstances they would be happy to release them,” said Turnquest.
“There is no justifiable reason why the media shouldn’t be given crime statistics on a regular basis.
“When I was minister of national security it was something that I was prepared to do whether it was good or bad.”
Turnquest said that commissioner is “mandated to provide empirical evidence, and not to make statements” without that evidence.
But Bell said the commissioner’s statement on crime should have been enough to satisfy the public at the time.
“It is contemptuous for the commissioner to say ‘this is what I am seeing’ and then you have politicians on the other side getting involved,” Bell said.
“It became a political football. The commissioner made a statement, and as he always has done, he will release [the statistics] in time.”
Greenslade told The Nassau Guardian on Thursday that whether he could produce evidence “is not the issue”.
“I couldn’t speak to you or any member of the press and tell you about figures if I didn’t have them,” Greenslade said.
“I do have them. So the issue of can we get statistics is not the issue. No one has asked me for statistics.”
However, The Guardian made numerous calls to senior members of the Police Force since Monday requesting the statistics. Messages were also left for Greenslade requesting the statistics earlier this week.
The Guardian has also made numerous requests for the information in the past few weeks, but to no avail.
Asked when he would be prepared to release the statistics, Greenslade 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 (Thursday), but I will release them.”
Turnquest added that it was “most appropriate” to make crime data available after each quarter of the year.