The True Crime Picture

POLICE Commissioner Vernon Francois
POLICE Commissioner Vernon Francois

The new year finds the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force reporting major strides in its crime-fighting performance during the past year. Earlier this week, Commissioner of Police, Vernon Francois, told the media that local law enforcement recorded a steady decline in criminal activity last year, particularly in the capital.

Over the years, a key indicator of the level of criminality here has been the homicide rate. That indicator has become so important that many people even equate it with a political party’s performance in government. What many people fail to realize, however, is that homicides are just a fraction of the whole when it comes to the true and bigger picture of criminality in any society.

Francois said that the homicide rate went down substantially last year with 34 homicides being recorded, compared to 36 in 2013. Francois, who was appointed Commissioner of Police in May 2010, said the murder rate had been trending downward ever since 2010. Given the Force’s limited resources – both in dollars and human resource capacity – which he has always decried, one can imagine the Force taking some credit for such a decreased homicide rate. However, lives were lost and many others changed, so it’s the kind of Pyrrhic victory that none of us can celebrate.

Momentarily, the full analysis of last year’s crime report will be made public. While the declining homicide rate would seem reassuring to some, it would be interesting to know what the report card says for other areas of crime, including drug seizures, crimes against the person, property crimes, sexual offences and other summary offences.

In 2013, 19,038 crimes were reported to law enforcement, compared to the previous year’s total of 21,334. In 2013, too, law enforcement recorded decreases in almost all of the major crime categories, namely murders, crimes against the person, property crimes, sexual offences, and other summary offences, according to information provided the RSLPF in February last year.

For now, Francois is also singing the Force’s praises that the number of crimes reported to police over the past year had declined. One must note, however, that not reporting a crime does not mean it did not occur. He pointed to a stronger presence by the police through community policing as one of the key methods towards decreasing criminality in communities. In February last year, he cited intelligence-driven policing as being a key factor in the police’s fight against crime, saying that method was responsible for quelling a series on murders and shooting incidents in the Morne Dudon, Bois Patat and New Village areas.

For many of those who follow the news, last year proved to be a very eventful year as far as criminality was concerned. While many of these reported cases did not result in a homicide, they certainly gave us reasons to pause. Whatever the full crime statistics for last year ultimately reveal, there is no denying that the police need every bit of support they can get in order to do their jobs efficiently.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend