Police claim a reduction in major crime for the first six months of 2019
Wednesday, July 31st, 2019
The crime situation in Belize for the first six months of 2019 has made local and international headlines after a spate of violence left Belizeans and foreigners dead. The Belize Police Department is yet to issue their mid-year crime statistics, but during a gathering on Monday, July 15th they claimed that compared to the same period in 2018, there is an 18% reduction in major crimes. However, that claim does not include the many Belizeans that have gone missing and are feared dead.
One of the major crime statistics that caught the attention of Belizeans is that of murder. According to a report by the Belize Crime Observatory, the period of January to June of 2019 recorded fewer murders compared to the same period in 2018. A total of 82 murders were recorded in 2018 the mid-year crime report, and although this year’s report has not been officially issued by police so far, reliable sources indicate that 66 were registered up to June this year. This shows a reduction of 16 cases or 20% less than in 2018. The report cites most of these killings taking place in the Belize District and deemed to be gang-related. However, the Commissioner of Police (ComPol) Chester Williams refutes these allegations stating that the murders were things that the police had no control over. According to him, it was not a situation where gang violence was rampant and was getting out of control.
A decline was also reported about other categories of major crimes, which includes robbery, burglary, and theft. Crimes that showed an increase are rape and unlawful sexual intercourse, but the most predominant crime across all districts was burglary.
Despite this reported decline in crimes, recent incidents clearly show that violence has not been absent across the country. The Belize Police Department had their hands full during June of this year, as it proved to be the most violent month so far, with 18 murders registered. January was also a violent month, registering 12 murders, closely followed by March with 10. Due to this spike in crime, and most of it happening in the Belize District, ComPol Williams took strict measures to address the issue.
On July 18th, Williams held a police press conference at the Racoon Street Police Station and announced a curfew for Belize City. ComPol said because most of the crimes are being committed by children, the curfew will apply to persons 18-years-old and under. It will be enforced from 6PM to 6AM and began on July 19th. He indicated that any children found on the street, which are not accompanied by an adult during these hours would be taken home. However, the parents will then be brought into the police station and held responsible for the violation of the curfew.
The idea has been welcomed by many, but it has been criticized as well. Shawn Saldano, President of Citizens Organized for Liberty through Action, believes that the curfew will not deter criminal activities. He stated that one-way crime could deter by providing opportunities to the people while engaging and positively endorsing them.
For the start of the second half of the year, July so far has registered several robberies and burglaries, including home invasions in northern Belize. One of the major crimes that are showing an increase in murder. Since July 3rd, over ten persons have been murdered, respectively in Belize, Stann Creek, Cayo, and Orange Walk Districts.
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