U.S.: 2015 was most deadly year
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Mar 02, 2016
The United States Department of State said “2015 was the most deadly year in Bahamian history”.
The department once again rated the crime threat in New Providence as “critical” in its Bahamas 2016 Crime and Safety Report.
“The Bahamas sustained remarkably high levels of violent armed crimes in 2015,” the report said.
While police continue to execute “indiscriminate armed checkpoints and a robust crime reduction plan in tourist areas, New Providence witnessed a substantial increase of violent armed crimes in locations that are also heavily frequented by U.S. tourists”, the report said.
It cited the record 146 murders that occurred in 2015, compared to the 123 in 2014. According to police statistics, murders increased by 19 percent, attempted rape increased by 33 percent and rape increased by 16 percent.
“For the fifth consecutive year, the murder count surpassed 100: in 2010, there were 94 murders,” the report said.
“The U.S. Embassy [in Nassau] has received an increase of reports of assaults, including sexual assaults at residences, hotel rooms, casinos, outside hotels, and on cruise ships.
“In some sexual assault incidents, the victim had reportedly been drugged.
“The embassy issued five separate security messages for U.S. citizens in 2015.
“Police recently warned women to be extra vigilant after a recent spike in the number of reported sexual assaults in Nassau.
“The water sports rental industry is only loosely regulated and in 2015, there were reported sexual assaults of U.S. citizens, including minors, by Jet Ski operators.
“The majority of these sexual assaults were reported to have occurred on relatively safe beaches within the confines of Paradise Island and heavily frequented by tourists and embassy personnel.
“As a result of this trend, on January 6, 2016, [the U.S.] Embassy in Nassau put the use of Jet Skis operated by local nationals in New Providence off-limits to all chief of mission personnel/agencies domiciled in The Bahamas.”
In January, the embassy issued a travel advisory strongly warning its citizens not to patronize the industry and revealed that its employees have been forbidden from using such services.
The warning was made after a Jet Ski operator allegedly raped an American tourist on a cay off Cabbage Beach days earlier.
The report also warned that The Bahamas has “experienced a wave of armed robberies at gas stations, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, banks, outside of places of worship and residences”.
“Foreign residents have periodically been victimized by residential burglary,” the report said.
“Crimes ranging from theft of personal watercraft, lawn furniture, vehicles [and] home invasions occur even within gated communities.
“Residential security also remains a pronounced concern, with the RBPF reporting a large number of house burglaries and break-ins.
“Home invasions in Nassau have become more numerous and violent.
“A number of armed home invasions, which occurred in both New Providence and Grand Bahama, were conducted within direct proximity of embassy residential housing.”
The report noted that home invasions, theft and robbery are not confined to any specific part of New Providence.
“In 2015, several incidents were reported that either involved tourists or occurred in well-known tourist locations,” the report said.
“Specifically, crimes were reported near popular tourist areas close to the cruise ship port (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach resort areas.
“While there is no indication that U.S. citizens have been targeted directly, criminals have become more brazen and creative in their methods.
“For example, several armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas.
“Armed assailants have placed random items in the street as impromptu roadblocks so unassuming drivers would stop and could be robbed.
“In separate instances, four embassy employees were victims of a robbery.”
Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade last month called for police to “acquire the services of a helicopter for rapid responses to serious crimes, fleeing felons and for patrols of hotspots”.
Greenslade said the police force will also explore the acquisition and lawful deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
He said the force also plans to commence the construction of a forensic science facility with emphasis on a state-of-the-art DNA laboratory.