Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Belize ends 2023 with the lowest murder rate in years

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While the last weekend of 2023 resulted in two additional deaths related to gun violence, one considered a possible act of self-defense, the total murder count for the year was 85, the lowest for Belize since 2005, dropping Belize’s murder rate per 100,000 residents to 19.1. The reduction in violent crime is considered very positive for the country’s public safety efforts, as the murder rate in recent years has been over 100 per year.
The Commissioner of Police (ComPol), Chester Williams, said that from the time he took the post as head of the Belize Police Department (BPD), his goal has been to reduce the number of murders to under 100. “While we came very close in terms of going a bit north of the 100, we were never able to keep the figures south of 100. But for the first time in my five-year tenure as commissioner and the first time since 2013, we are seeing the figures south of 100,” said ComPol Williams.

Commissioner of Police Chester Williams – file photo

“This year’s figure is historic in the sense that it is the lowest we have seen since 2005. This is a great success for the police department.” ComPol commended his police officers across the country and Minister of Home Affairs and New Growth Industries, the Honourable Kareem Musa, who oversees the BPD. The ComPol also acknowledged stakeholders, the Department of Human Development, the Ministries of Youth and Sports, and Education, for their free educational campaigns, particularly in southside Belize City. The Leadership Intervention Unit was also highlighted for its efforts in conducting mediations between rival groups and the job program that continues to pay around 300 gang members a weekly salary to do civil work in their neighborhoods.
The BPD reported 81 murders in 2005; however, rates increased over the coming years to the point that the homicide rates, particularly in Belize City, were on a steady rise. Up to 2022, around 25 homicides were committed per 100,000 inhabitants in the country. This increase in homicides in recent years in Belize was even considered higher than in neighboring Guatemala.
Moving forward in 2024, the BPD is optimistic about having another productive year. The BPD noted that it will be difficult to replicate what they accomplished in 2023, but they are confident they can even do better. The department relies on its force, which they characterize as extraordinarily dedicated and resilient in maintaining law and order.

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