On Wednesday, the official Saba crime figures for the year 2014 have been released during a press conference held at the recently constructed police station in the Bottom. This writes The Daily Herald. The figures were presented by head Commissioner of Police of the BES islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) Hildegard Buitink, head of basic police force BES José Rosales, Major Wingrove Baker, Island Governor Jonathan Johnson and Chief of Police on Saba Durk Hiemstra.
The figures show an increase in violent crimes in the months of January, February and June of 2014, with a strong decline in the months of April and October. A total of 55 violent crimes were handled by the Saba police force, of which 16 cases of physical abuse, 20 threat cases, 18 cases of domestic violence and 1 case of public violent behaviour.
These figures do not represent the number of arrests made in that same year. Especially looking at the statistics of 2013, these figures have increased significantly. For crimes against property or public goods, a total of 30 cases were handled in 2014.
In 11 cases, destruction of (public) property took place, while in 12 cases the figures showed burglaries of either domestic or commercial properties. Furthermore, there were six miscellaneous thefts and one case of human trafficking, where two alleged prostitutes were arrested in Fort Bay Harbour.
Looking back at previous statistics from 2012 and 2013, a decline in miscellaneous thefts can be seen, while there is an increase in destruction of property and domestic burglaries. In 2012, 2013, as well as in 2014, no car and scooter thefts were reported or handled by the Saba police.
Another interesting fact was the increase in traffic accidents. While there were 30 traffic accidents on Saba in 2012, this number decreased to 27 in 2013, and increased to 41 in 2014. One person died in traffic; however, the autopsy showed this was due to medical issues. According to Hiemstra, the increase in traffic accidents is partly due to a specific group of medical students.
A total of 70 investigations were handled on Saba, compared to 99 in 2013. Fifty per cent of these investigations were solved in 2014, while in 2013 this percentage was 46. Chief of Police Hiemstra emphasized that some great successes were achieved by the Saba police officers. There was a successful investigation on illegal employees in cooperation with the Labour Inspectorate and the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. Two people were convicted regarding a massive fight in the harbour area, and illegal gold buyers and sellers were arrested and removed from the island.
In November, The Daily Herald reported on a Go-Fast boat that was seized in Fort Bay Harbour after the sum of US $80.000 was discovered by customs officers during a routine check. The two men driving the boat were taken into custody and after an investigation they were extradited to the USA by Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers.
Head Commissioner Buitink said domestic violence has the highest priority on Saba and the other BES islands. In 2014, about 50 per cent of these cases were solved on Saba. Buitink emphasized that the level of difficulty of these cases is very high, because the offences take place behind closed doors. A new programme is in place to tackle these issues.
On public violence there was a solvability rate of 100 per cent. Many problems occur on Saba, as well as on the other BES islands, due to excessive drinking. Stichting Verslavingszorg and Psychiatrie Caribisch Nederland (Foundation Addiction care and Psychiatrics SVPCN) led by Jaco Vaders, are working hard to prevent alcohol addiction on Saba. “Prevention is better than repression” Governor Johnson remarked. Businesses and the community also have a responsibility in these cases, emphasised Major Wingrove Baker. ”If a person is drunk, don’t sell him or her any more alcohol, but instead offer a cup of coffee,” Baker commented. Baker did notice a decrease in drunken violence cases since 2010, which is probably due to the fact that offenders are more severely punished and jailed on Bonaire.
Buitink concluded by saying she is very proud of the men and women of the police force and Marechaussee on Saba. She also remarked that she is very pleased with the new police station in the Bottom and promised a new, smaller police station will be realised in Windwardside in 2015.