The Ugly Face of Crime in 2014

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By STAR Re­porter

Atyear end the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Ver­non Fran­cois was very com­pli­men­tary of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force (RSLPF) which, ac­cord­ing to him, amidst sev­eral chal­lenges had done its ut­most “re­sult­ing in ma­jor strides in its crime-fight­ing per­for­mance dur­ing the past year.”

Ac­cord­ing to Fran­cois lo­cal law en­force­ment had recorded a steady de­cline in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity last year, par­tic­u­larly in the cap­i­tal.

The po­lice com­mis­sioner is also not­ing that the homi­cide rate for 2014 had gone down to 34 com­pared to 36 in 2013. The po­lice also ef­fected a num­ber of suc­cess­ful drug busts in 2014 in­volv­ing the trafficking of co­caine and the cul­ti­va­tion of mar­i­juana.

In terms of crime re­duc­tion, the po­lice com­mis­sioner says there was a re­duc­tion in ma­jor cat­e­gories of crimes such as mur­ders, bur­glary, sex­ual of­fences, steal­ing of mo­tor ve­hi­cles and firearm of­fences. How­ever, it should be noted that this re­duc­tion is vis­i­ble in “re­ported crime” and may not re­flect the num­ber of ac­tual of­fences.

De­spite the num­bers, the trend in vi­o­lent crime con­tin­ues to be very wor­ry­ing as a num­ber of brazen acts were com­mit­ted in 2014. Among them was the at­tack on Bri­tish tourist Roger Pratt who was killed on his yacht when three ban­dits re­port­edly at­tempted to rob the 62-yearold.

Then in April of 2014 there were the dis­cov­er­ies of at least three bod­ies. The body of Ol­lie Go­bat was dis­cov­ered in Cap Es­tate burnt beyond recog­ni­tion while another body was dis­cov­ered that month on Pi­geon Is­land with its head re­port­edly de­cap­i­tated. And it took sev­eral months be­fore another body dis­cov­ered in Marisule could be iden­ti­fied as that of Li­nus Con­stan­tine.

There were also sev­eral shoot­ing in­ci­dents in 2014 re­sult­ing in two deaths in Soufriere in Oc­to­ber.

The po­lice force came un­der scru­tiny for the shoot­ing to death of two men­tally ill men in 2014. The first in­ci­dent oc­curred in Vieux Fort in June when Si­mon Gabriel was shot dead by po­lice in an at­tempt to ap­pre­hend him. The sec­ond in­ci­dent oc­curred in Novem­ber in Bruceville Vieux Fort where po­lice shot and killed 25 yearold Christo­pher Sev­er­ine. He too was said to be men­tally un­sta­ble.

While the po­lice have re­ported a re­duc­tion in sex­ual of­fences, some ob­servers note that this may not be the re­al­ity and that many cases may not be re­ported, par­tic­u­larly rape.

How­ever a num­ber of in­ci­dents of rape made the news in 2014 in­clud­ing that of two mi­nors and an el­derly woman. There was also the bru­tal rape and as­sault by three men of a 23-year-old hair­dresser in Den­nery. Then three men sav­agely raped a young woman on the Choc beach in De­cem­ber. No one has been ar­rested in any of th­ese mat­ters.

Ac­cord­ing to the po­lice press re­la­tions depart­ment, the po­lice com­mis­sioner will con­vene a press con­fer­ence soon to present an over­view of crime in Saint Lu­cia in 2014.

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