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Crime

Crime climbing, Budget support increasing while Police Commissioner seems in denial

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By Deandrea Hamilton &Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 15, 2022 – Despite a double-digit increase of 10 percent in overall crime and a 13 percent spike in serious crimes, Royal TCI Police Commissioner Trevor Botting maintains the rhetoric that the police have got crime “under control.”

The crime statistics for 2021-2022 were released on Monday; they measure the number of incidents recorded between April 2021 to March 2022; running concurrently with the country’s fiscal year.  It is a departure from previous years which counted crime and arrests over a calendar year.  This methodology was announced in 2021 as the new standard for the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police.

The increase in incredibly violent crimes against residents and visitors is especially concerning at a time when the Turks and Caicos is experiencing exponential growth, with investors listing it as one of the most desirable places in the region for investments. Real Estate and Tourism have recorded banner years in terms of arrivals and revenue, which has pushed government income to $391 million.

The police budget for the year 2022-2023 is $ 32.5 million, nearly half of the $ 67.3 million allocated for public order and safety. The figure shared during the May 2022 Budget communication  is an impressive $3 million higher than the 2021-2022 allocation; then at $29.4 million.

Botting’s rationale for stating the police have crime under control is linked to significant arrests he said.  Royal TCI Police have caught suspects who drove up the crime rate early in quarter four of this past year (January and February.)

In this January/February 2022 period, a spate of violent crimes was carried out against locals and tourists alike including shootings, a chopping, armed home or villa invasions, armed carjackings, parking lot and beach ambushes and store robberies.

In some cases people were shot at; at least a tourist and a little girl were hit by bullet.  Both, thankfully survived.

“Whilst overall crime and the number of serious crimes have risen by 10 percent and 13 percent respectively, the Turks and Caicos suffered a very significant surge in crime during January and February 2022. This surge accounted for 68 additional serious crimes when compared to the year before and in relation to overall crime, the same two months saw an additional 121 crimes when compared with January and February 2021.

We believe these additional crimes were carried out by a very small number of prolific offenders, offenders which are no longer active,” said Commissioner Botting.

Overall there were 1,738 crimes committed in the Turks and Caicos during the April 2021 to March 2022 period which is 157 more crimes than the 1,581 committed in the previous 12 months April 2020 to March 2021, causing the 10 percent increase.

For context, without the ‘68 additional serious crimes’ perpetrated during the January/February 2022 spike, there would have been a total of 1670 crimes in the 12-month period, an increase of 5 percent over the previous period regardless.

Additionally, the Police Commissioner did not give any details on the operations connected to these ‘prolific offenders’ and he did not say what he meant by them being no longer active.

Commissioner Botting did provide reasonably detailed statistics.

There were a total of 355 serious crimes, 42 more than the 313 recorded in the 12-month period before accounting for the 13 percent increase. This also puts the number of serious crimes 12 percent higher than the 5-year average of 315.

The number of burglaries held firm with the same 286 as the period before. There was a rise in aggravated burglaries with 19 more offenses than the year before, a total of 53.

It is important to note that the recent spate of robberies and car thefts in late May are not included in these statistics.

Another unsurprising rise was in Firearms Offences with an additional 37 crimes compared to the same period the year before.

There was no report on the gun amnesty in March and how many, if any firearms, were recovered from that effort.

The only reductions included in the report were a one percent reduction in the number of robberies and a 20 percent reduction in the number of murders. There were 20 people killed in 2020–2021 compared to 16 in this period.

The decrease in murder at least is cause for celebration, Commissioner Botting described it as ‘very welcome’ and said the police would be continuing with targeted operations throughout the year to get the figures down. He noted that while the police work hard other issues had to be tackled if they are to be successful in their crime-fighting efforts

“Whilst policing is at the forefront of crime prevention and detection through enforcement and the Officers and staff within the Force have worked very hard to tackle the surge in crime committed by prolific and dangerous criminals, the societal issues that are the causes of crime must be tackled to see a sustained reduction in crime, especially serious crime.”

Still the sense of urgency felt by Islanders seems to be absent for the Commissioner of Police.  Residents have openly stated, it is the longstanding secrecy about crimes which are happening, the ongoing negative advisory and warning about the safety of the destination which is so heavily tourism dependent by the US Department of Homeland Security, the low rate of crime detection and convictions and the high rate of individuals seemingly getting away with murder which creates the unshakable angst.

Bottom line a crime rate on the rise is simply not under control.

Crime

Too Many Unknowns, Scandalous Rumors emerge about Murder-Accused Brandon Rahming relationships

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By Deandrea Hamilton & Dana Malcolm

Editorial Staff

 

#TurksandCaicos, December 2, 20222 – Just over a week now since the death of suspected murderer Brandon Rahming  and social media chatter is raging; accusations, speculations, voice notes, photographs and undeniable discontent despite the country’s most notorious suspect now being himself, dead.

Magnetic Media has been privy to strings of communication which are unsubstantiated, but which point to the ongoing apprehension and legitimate musings about the light which could have been potentially shed if Rahming had been taken alive.

The alleged gang leader had been fingered by police for his involvement in drugs, arms and several murders.  It’s very likely that Rahming had significant information on who may have  been funding him, who was providing drugs and how they were entering the TCI.

With the gang leader dead, a wealth of information that could have validated the Governor-announced ‘transnational gang activity’ and likely put a real monkey-wrench into the nefarious activity in the TCI is lost.

Meanwhile, Police announced a man was charged in the Dock Yard arrest and take down of Brandon Rahming.  It said: “A Dock Yard man has been remanded into custody, after he appeared before a Magistrate yesterday (November 30th).

Guilene Jean-Baptiste, 25, is charged with the following offences:

(1) Possession of Controlled Drugs namely Cannabis
(2) Possession of Controlled Drugs namely Cocaine
(3) Possession of Controlled Drugs namely Methamphetamine
(4) Possession of Controlled Drugs with Intent to Supply namely Cannabis
(5) Possession of Controlled Drugs with Intent to Supply namely Cocaine
(6) Possession of Controlled Drugs with Intent to Supply namely Methamphetamine

Jean-Baptiste was arrested on November 19th, 2022, following a joint operation by police officers.

He is scheduled to re-appear in Court on December 19th, 2022.”

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Crime

Letter Bomber Hunt on in Spain

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By Dana Malcolm 

Staff Writer 

#Spain, December 2, 2022 – Police in Spain are desperately trying to find the culprit or culprits behind a series of letter bombs that have targeted high profile government officials and embassies since the start of the week.

So far the bombs which have arrived in inconspicuous cardboard boxes with handwritten addresses targeted six places: the Spanish Prime Minister’s office; US Embassy; Ukrainian Embassy; Spanish Defense Ministry; a weapons maker;  and a Spanish Air Base.

At least one individual from the Ukrainian embassy was hurt when the bomb targeting it went off.

All of the areas targeted have some connection to the EU or to the war in Ukraine.   A European newspaper Euractiv quoted the Ukrainian ambassador as saying that the package came with a box inside.  Suspicious, a security guard opened the package, pulled out the box, opened it, heard a click and tossed it.  Despite tossing it before it exploded he still received a concussion and hand injuries.

Police say they believe someone in Spain sent the packages and that they were all connected.

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Crime

Study reveals Online Sexual Exploitation of Children rose in Pandemic; Philippines among the worst

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

A recent study from UNICEF and investigation by the BBC have revealed horrific levels of child abuse in the Philippines fueled by pandemic lockdowns and increasing poverty. The study  revealed that country has become a den for Online sexual exploitation and abuse of children (OSEAC) in which adults sometimes even parents force children to perform sexual acts on camera for paying pedophiles on the internet.

A key finding of the study was that certain cultural beliefs contribute to the spread of OSAEC such as ‘if the children are untouched, they are not harmed’ and ‘OSAEC provides easy money and almost everyone does it.’

The BBC’s Laura Bicker visited Preda, an orphanage in the country that specifically helps abused children. Located in the orphanage is a dark padded room outfitted with an on hand therapist. Bicker described what she saw and heard.

“Some of the toughest healing at Preda happens inside a dark room with soft music playing in the background. There are large pads on the walls and floors – the kind gymnasts would use for a soft landing. The only light comes from the open door. About five children are kneeling, each in their own space.  Most of them are facing the wall. The overwhelming sound is the erratic thud of their fists and feet as they pummel the pads. The first raw, anguished cries make your heart stop. And then it starts again, but it’s difficult to keep listening, even from a distance, even for a few minutes. The questions hurled at the cushioned walls – “Why did you do this to me? Why me? What did I do?”

The situation is becoming increasingly dire.

Only around 20 per cent of Filipino children are listed by UNICEF as not vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and the pandemic has made it worse. UNICEF says a good grasp of the English Language, availability and ease of access to technology, well-established financial transaction facilities, and ‘absence of perceived conflict between sexual exploitation and significant social norms are some of the reasons the gruesome industry is allowed to thrive and expand.

While instances of online abuse may not be as prevalent in the Caribbean instances of sexual abuse are still high.  A recent study revealed that nearly 15 per cent of children aged 11–12 years and, 35 per cent of young people, 14–15 years old reported having had sexual experiences. Since the onset of the pandemic in 2019 those numbers have spiked.

In  Jamaica alone pediatricians said cases abuse rose 70 per cent during the pandemic but cases reported to the police dropped significantly indicating extreme underreporting.

Sexual crimes are some of the most underreported crimes in the world for various reasons including fear, coercion and shame. Protection of children from sexual abuse in all its forms must then become a community effort with adults taking on the responsibility of investigating and speaking up on behalf of children who may not be able to do so on their own.

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