Barbados police say there has been a significant increase in gun related crimes on the island this year as compared with 2016 but said new policing strategy has led to law enforcement officials seizing an increased number of illegal guns.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police responsible for Crime, Colvin Bishop, told reporters that at the end of November, there had been a 57 per cent increase in gun related crimes as compared to the same period last year.
He said 318 criminal offences were committed with the use of firearms as compared with 202 for the same period last year and that the gun was a weapon of choice in the commission of offences such as murder, aggravated burglary, endangering life, robbery and assault with intent to rob.
Police figures show that of the 28 murders committed so far this year, 22 were gun-related.
Bishop told reporters that there had been a 28 per cent increase in the number of illegal guns seized so far this year, and a 15 per cent rise in the number of cases brought before the courts as a result of stepped up anti-gun operations and recent tours of troubled communities. Most of the illegal guns were imported into the island.
“This year our policing strategy to combat the use and possession of illegal firearms has been built on four planks: namely interdiction, enforcement, prosecution and education. Our efforts to prosecute persons for firearms has resulted, thus far, with 153 firearms related offences being placed before the law courts compared with 133 for the year 2016.
“Our enforcement efforts have resulted in the removal of several firearms from the hands of criminals. To date, combined law enforcement efforts have resulted in the seizure of 91 firearms as compared with 71 for the same period last year. The most prevalent firearms recovered were .9mm, .40 and .45 calibre pistols,” Bishop told reporters.
He said that there had been a 103.5 per cent increase in the amount of ammunition seized during the first 11 months of this year when compared to the same period last year, with 2,721 rounds of ammunition seized this year as against 1337 rounds in 2016.
“These firearms and ammunition have been seized in a range of circumstances that include police-led investigations and special operations,” Bishop said , assuring citizens that the police would continue to put pressure on criminals by stepping up patrols in the so-called crime hot spots.