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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

First Parker, now Shavez Musgrove FREED after Court of Appeal QUASHES CONVICTIONS and 25 year sentences

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Wilkie Arthur

Freelance Court Correspondent

#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 29, 2024 – February 29th at around 9:30 a.m., the court of appeal of the Turks and Caicos Islands convened via video link and delivered its judgement as it relates to multiple convictions of rapes, kidnappings, firearms offences and other charges in the case of ANDREW PARKER and SHAVEZ MUSGROVE.

The appeals were actually heard since October 19th, 2023, with ANDREW PARKER being released that same day because after the crown, then senior public prosecutor Ms. Mickia Mills heard the arguments of ANDREW Parker’s senior defense counsel Mrs Lara Maroof Misick she conceded to the appeal being allowed against PARKER, and acquittals entered on all counts. 

PARKER immediately walked free from October last year, leaving his co-appellant in prison, awaiting a decision, from the three appellate judges, in his matter before the Court.

Andrew Parker

Musgrove’s appeal was also heard on October 19th last year, but the Court needed time to consider the multiple interests of justice arguments put forward by human rights attorney Ms Sheena Mair on behalf of her client, Shavez MUSGROVE.

The then senior public prosecutor, Ms Mickia Mills, who is now the Turks and Caicos Islands, first Coroner, did put up a fight against MUSGROVE’S appeal but it was obvious she knew the human rights attorney – Sheena Mair – would present arguments as to the fairness of the trial which could have resulted in the conviction being overturned.  

It is what happened today, the conviction of Musgrove was overturned today, Thursday February 29th, 2024.

Magnetic Media was in court at the hearing of both appeals last year and it was clearly through the submissions of both senior attorneys on behalf of their clients, that the learned local trial Judge at the time, Mr. Carlos Simons, KC made countless serious errors that affected the fairness of the trial and rendered the convictions and 25 year sentences against both appellants, unsafe and unsatisfactory.

Shavez Musgrove

The Court of Appeal said, they have QUASHED the SHAVEZ MUSGROVE convictions and sentences on multiple grounds of unfairness submitted by Mrs. Sheena Mair and because of the passage of time this case has being running some seven years with some of the evidence exhibits being destroyed in a fire of the exhibit room at the police station, in the interest of justice, no retrial has been ordered.

MUSGROVE is hereby ordered released from prison.

 

 

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Caribbean News

Police and Residents Speak at Anti-Crime Event

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

#TurksandCaicos#Crime, February 27th, 2024 -With the increase in population in Grand Turk more officers are needed according to residents speaking at a recent anti crime town hall meeting. 

“At the ongoing capacity carrying study it’s been noted that the population in Grand Turk is around 7200 – 7300” a resident said, “we expect as citizens to have more than three officers on duty.”

Other residents pointed out growing issues of poverty, mental health and substance abuse as causes for crime as well maintaining that a holistic approach is necessary 

 

“We can fix this, we can do something about this, but it’s going to take a village,” one maintained.

 

Both residents were speaking to a panel of the top brass of the police force on February 20th.

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Caribbean News

Residents Concerned About Catch and Release Tactics by Police

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

#TurksandCaicos, February 27th, 2024 – Residents of the Turks and Caicos islands are now expressing concern after several arrests that were made regarding recent murders resulted in no charges being laid. At least six persons have been arrested since February 8th 2024 on allegations of murder or conspiracy to murder. Word has now come that all six have been released with no charges relating to the killings though some picked up drug charges, pending further investigation. Currently a 72 hour limit is laid on police for holding suspects without charges with the possibility of a 72 hour extension. One of those arrested was a 55 year old woman who had lost her own son to violence weeks earlier. Some residents have expressed anger at the blight such arrests can place on reputations, seemingly, without sufficient evidence to back them up. However, this is one of the fallouts of having such small, close-knit communities as questioning suspects is part of the investigation process and, Police did not reveal the identities of those persons of interest.

#murder

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