Cherry Picking Crime Statistics

I’d like to point out an excellent letter to the editor by Guilden Gilbert Jr. who notes how the UBP have cherry picked crime statistics from the last 8 years rather than the 10 years of data that have been available.

Mr. Dunkley seems to arbitrarily choose to compare the 2006 crime numbers to those of 1999, instead of going back as far as the statistics go on the Bermuda Police Service web site (www.bermudapolice.bm) which go back to 1996, the PLP did not become the Government until 1998.

In 1996 there were 350 total crimes of violence and within that number were six murders and six attempted murders. In 2006 the total crimes of violence was 305 with three murders and two attempted murders. Between 1997 and 2006 the total number of violent crimes did not exceed 336, which means that the highest annual number of violent crimes occurred under the UBP watch. Mr. Dunkley says that the burglary rate seem to be at the highest ever, yet in 1996 there were 223 burglaries and in 2006 there were 37. In fact in 1997, still under the UBP watch, there were 299 burglaries, which is the highest recorded. Also 1997 saw the highest total break-in offences with 1,241 compared to 2006 with 1,142.

Mr. Dunkley states that robberies are at their highest rate in 10 years, again he is incorrect as according the Bermuda Police statistics 10 years ago, 1997, there were 429 total crimes of stealing and in 2006 there were 263. The highest recorded number is 512 in 1999, which means that robbery/theft has actually declined overall in the last 10 years.

Nice work Guilden.  Glad to see others using statistics to back up their arguments and point out cases of cherry picking the numbers.  While evaluating the number of police officers he notes:

there are currently about 450 police officers in Bermuda or one police officer for every 149 people. If the number of police officers Bermuda has on a per capita basis existed in any other jurisdiction that jurisdiction would be labeled a police state. New York City has a population of approximately 8.2 million and a police force of nearly 39,000 officers or one officer for every 210 people. The United Kingdom has a population of 60.7 million and a police force of 139,000 officers or 1 officer for every 437 people.

Interesting information, to which Guilden asks “Is it not the job of the Commissioner of Police to make sure the officers under his charge are properly deployed to actively prevent crime?”  Given the number of police officers in comparison to other jurisdictions, this is a question that should be explored in greater detail.

However, Guilden also asks “Has the PLP Government not given the Police Service a healthy budget?”, to which I have dedicated some time researching into what various individuals have said and the conclusion presented was that many believe the Police service is short on overall resources.  Beyond this there was also the detail that he pay contract for Police Officers expired in 2004 and has yet to be negotiated.

So, while I agree with Guilden with regards to the UBP cherry picking the numbers and the questions of whether there may already be enough police officers, I still have my doubts with regards to healthy funding.

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5 thoughts on “Cherry Picking Crime Statistics

  1. There has been significant debate over how the Bermuda Police has massaged its statistics, where burglaries may be recorded as something different etc.
    (Much as the Dept of Tourism shows arrivals going through the roof but the Caribbean Tourism association shows only anemic growth.)
    This is one reason why Bermuda needs an independent statistics authority.

  2. I can’t speak to Bermuda Police massaging it’s statistics and regardless support the need for an independent statistics authority.
    However, from what I’ve noted, the Caribbean Tourism Organization recieves their statistics from the Department of Tourism and the Dept of Tourism has not published differing results. Whether the numbers are accurate is a whole different story.
    This article demonstrates that the DOT and CTO are reporting the same numbers:
    http://www.theroyalgazette.com/siftology.royalgazette/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7d79cb33003000d§ionId=60
    “According to the CTO study, the busiest month was June, with 38,336 air arrivals, although this was down 0.8 percent from last June.
    July saw 37,473 visitors, down 2.7 percent; May 34,471, down 0.4 percent; and April 26,787, down 3.9 percent.
    January had the biggest proportionate rise, up 24.8 percent to 10,725; February was up 12.6 percent to 13,192; and March up 17.9 percent to 21,908.
    Premier Ewart Brown, who is also Tourism Minister, announced the second quarterly figures for 2007 in a press conference in July, saying there had been a decrease of 1.5 percent throughout April, May and June. ”
    What you’re likely seeing as reports from the DOT with regards to arrivals being up are that Cruise arrivals are up. Though it should be noted at cruise spending per passenger accounts for approx 1/6th that of comparative air spending. Which indicates that despite the 10% rise in cruise visitors, the 1.7% decline in air means that overall expenditure is unchanged for the second quarter comparing this year to last.

  3. When looking at the per capita police numbers for Bermuda, things are a little distorted by our small size. Keep in mind that in Bermuda there are lots of functions performed by police officers that in other places would be performed by civilians. Here I am thinking of communications/despatching and vehicle repair.
    With that, no matter whether you service 50K people or 100K or even 150K, you will probably need a minimum of, say, ten radio despatch people and maybe five vehicle mechanics, to cover all the workload and cover absences. Extend this to a few functions and you can quickly see how many officers you could get to before you start to reach the actual number of officers who do active policing. The fixed requirements of operating a jurisdictional police service will always, per capita, a greater drag on smaller jurisdictions.
    I don’t know if they exist, but I would like to see stats of how many individuals we have doing active police work, outside of positions that would be civilianised elsewhere, and compare that to other jurisdictions of our size. I am sure that would shed a different light on the numbers.

  4. Good article Denis,
    I am very concerned at Mr Dunkley’s views of the state of crime, when under their watch crime was worse.
    Really i dont think all crime is attributable to who is in power, but for mr dunkley to politicize it and to do so inaccurately is irresponsible.

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