In his budget speech presented on Friday, March 1, 2013, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who has headed the National Security Council, acknowledged that crime continues to be a “scourge” upon Belizean society, “which, despite our best efforts, casts its increasingly long shadow over our entire society, but especially our urban youth.”
Statistics released by the Police Department’s Joint Intelligence Coordinating Center (JICC) this week show just how grave of a concern the crime situation has become for the beleaguered Belize City, which saw an unprecedented 23 shootings over the first two months of 2013.
The City saw 13 murders for the same period, this due to a spike of 10 murders in January, including the quadruple murder of gang members in early January.
For the Belize District on the whole, shooting incidents and murders more than doubled for the period in question. There were 19 murders in the Belize District, where 90% of all murders were recorded for the first two months of 2013. The murders happened largely in Belize City, but others also occurred in Ladyville, Hattieville and San Pedro Town.
The year 2012 saw a record number of murders, registering at 146, according to data previously published in Amandala. If things continue at this rate, with a 30% increase in the incidences of murders nationally, the year could see in excess of 180 murders.
Barrow pledged at his recent budget presentation that, “We will not slacken in our resolve to restore sanity and safety to our cities, towns and communities.”
He said that in the new budget, which is to be debated next Thursday and Friday, March 21 and 22, “we have accordingly pledged more resources to our police and security forces, to provide more weapons, vehicles, and surveillance and communication equipment.”
Barrow said his administration would also upgrade its intelligence-gathering capabilities.
“We will strengthen the coordination between the Ministry of National Security, the Attorney General’s Ministry, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, all in a concerted effort toward more effective crime investigation, prosecution and conviction,” he added.
Furthermore, he highlighted that $2 million from the Caribbean Development Bank has been earmarked for the Youth and Community Transformation Project on the Southside of Belize City, including the construction of a Youth and Community Resource Center, as well as programs to reduce vulnerability of children to crime and gang membership.
He also spoke of the ongoing private-public sector dialogue as a means of including the wider public in addressing what he described as “the troubling crime situation that has affected business operations in the country.”
We note that major crimes, according to the police stats, were down from 460 for the first two months of 2012, to 408 for the first two months of 2013. Those major crimes listed are murder, rape, robbery, burglary, theft and carnal knowledge. See graph titled, “Major Crimes (Jan-Feb 2012, 2013)”
Orange Walk, Stann Creek and Toledo data showed a spike in burglaries, whereas Cayo and Corozal showed a spike in robberies.
Overall, carnal knowledge cases have increased, at a similar pace to that of murders, by nearly 50%.
However, there was an overall reduction in incidences of robberies, burglaries and thefts for the two months for which police data have been supplied.