The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has recommended that Caribbean countries step up the monitoring of their police and justice systems, expressing concern at the growing rate of violent crime in the region.
In its latest study on criminal activity in the region, IDB said the Caribbean has a higher rate of violent crime than Africa and some Latin American countries, and that almost half of all crimes go unreported.
The report is based on the results of new crime victimization surveys carried out in The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Crime has also taken its toll on businesses as well, with 23% of firms surveyed claiming to have suffered loss and nearly 70% increasing spending on private security measures.
Crime in the Caribbean has ‘unique characteristics’, the bank said, adding that non-violent property crimes, such as break-ins and theft, are low when compared to other regions.
Theft of personal property in a 12-month period in the Caribbean is 4.8%, compared with the global average of 8.1%. Rates of burglary (4.1%) are lower in the Caribbean than in Africa (8%) and Latin America (5.9%).
“The Caribbean region is rightfully known for its beauty, warmth, culture, music and, yes, beckoning environment,” said Therese Turner-Jones, the manager of the IDB’s Caribbean Department. “But the darker side of having some of the world’s highest violent crime rates remains a cause for concern.”
Luckily, violence has not hurt the region’s lucrative tourism industry much, largely because violence is concentrated in certain neighborhoods and demographic groups, often far away from tourist resorts. For instance, in Port of Spain, 50% of crimes are committed in only 3% of street segments.
“Port of Spain has a relatively high rate of car thefts, robberies, and assault. Kingston shows medium-to-high rates for all categories except for assaults and threats, which are higher. Bridgetown (Barbados) and Paramaribo (Suriname) show comparatively low rates for most types of common crime,” the report added.