Forum: Crime in the Caribbean
Concerns are mounting over the worryingly high incidence of violent crime across the Caribbean.
An article in the The Economist magazine quotes a World Bank -UN report as saying that the region - better known for its blue skies, cricket and rum punch, was the world leader in violent crime.
The joint United Nations-World Bank study last year, said the region had a murder rate of 30 per 100,000 inhabitants - four times the North American figure and 15 times the West and Central European average.
New report released
Meanwhile, the Caribbean is listed among the countries with the highest levels of organised crime, according to a new book.
The book titled World of Crime, is by Dutch university professor and former UN official Jan van Dijk.
He says the international community ignores at its peril how organized crime undermines efforts to improve governance and fight poverty.
Professor van Dijk says organized crime is shown to be highest in the Caribbean, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and West and Central Africa.
He criticizes development aid agencies, the UNDP and international institutions such as the World Bank for not acknowledging the priority need for tackling organized crime as part of their strategies.
What's the cause, what's solution?
Have your say
Why should they carry knifes when you know you are losing some one else’s life and you can go to prison for life and not see
any of your family so cut down on the knives. Thank you.
As someone of Jamaican parents who visits Jamaica every couple of years, I feel really sad about the levels of crime in Jamaica.
I do think a lot of it is down to education and I think the government needs to do so much more than they are. It struck me
when I stayed at a hotel in Ocho Rios last year that the money is not being invested back into the country. People who stay
in the hotels are told not to go out! Sure, it provides jobs for locals, but you step outside the hotel gates and there's
people begging you. Come on Bruce Golding, put your money where your mouth is!
The solution for crime in the Caribbean is harsh punishment, like the death penalty for killers
People having children when they shouldn't be, and bad parenting skills cause much of the crime
I think that the laws are not tough enough, and are not enforced to their max. The Governments of most countries in the Caribbean
are just stupid, and we need to recruit the brains that have left the shores to seek better education.
I think that crime in Guyana has become something more than any of us Guyanese could've ever imagined. Gangs are being formed
in slums all over the country; they rob, loot, terrorise and kill senselessly...all for their gain (as a gang). Monies taken
in robberies are used to acquire rapid-fire high end weapons and ammunition, which are unmatched anywhere else in Guyana.
The result...an armed dangerous force, neither the Guyana Police Force nor the Guyana Defence Force can reckon with. I think
that the situation is one that cannot be rectified in the near future, simply because required funds needed desperately by
the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Military are NOT directed to these areas. Secondly, these two crime fighting agencies
need to be reformed; it is evident that ranks within these services are highly incapable of carrying out duties sworn to them.
High levels of illiteracy, among members of the force and military units, serve as a decent example of the forces inefficiency.
How are plans/attacks executed? How can efficient reports be made? Even more so, how can these agencies be tasked with protecting
a country at large. With billions being pumped into the Guyana Revenue weekly, thanks to the implementation of Value Added
Tax...new/improved crime fighting equipment should have already been realised for the forces. It is absurd that the president's
helicopter has to be used to carry out 'over-looks and hunts' whenever the police requires a chopper. It is inevitable that
crime, and crime lords, will rule Guyana until the Government of Guyana begins to invest substantially in its peace keeping
I believe the crime rate in St Lucia will not decrease unless the government of St Lucia invest in the youth of the nation.
Then, and only then, something can be done. It is high time that the government put some action to the statements they constantly
The crime situation in Guyana is really bad. You cannot sleep at night. You only afraid for your children’s life, and all
others. If there is a noise, the children become afraid in their own home. The government of Guyana should do something about
it. I feel like to leave this Country with my children and never come back to Guyana. But I do not have any where to go. It
really hard in Guyana to see your love ones being killed and you cannot do anything about it. It is really sad to see what
has become of Guyana. Guyana is the country of crime, and a country for criminals. They have no feeling when they are killing
innocent children. The government of Guyana should have the death penalty. Do not send them back to prison it is a waste
The Caribbean lacks security experts in dealing with the present crime situation within the region. There must be a proactive
approach in dealing with crime. Although the region has criminologists, they usually theorize on crime. I make this point
to show that it will be difficult for the region to combat an increase in crime, since we are lacking people of such high
qualifications to get the job done. We must understand that the criminal is becoming more scientific in his approach to committing
crime. The police are reactive; they must adopt a more proactive approach to crime. Although there is justification in the
report, it is the responsibility of the governments within the region to seek out the Security Experts to help reduce the
incidence of violent crime. They know the local conditions, and they have the knowledge to create measures which will help
the reduction in crime.
The people of Jamaica are miserable and hungry. They have big dreams and great aspirations, but they have no means, no way
out. They don’t have the tunnel to see the light at the end of. The government of Jamaica must in this very instant, take
urgent and significant measures to curb the crime problems inextricably linked to social, economic and political ills. Many
Jamaicans, even students here at the University of the West Indies, do not believe that we can solve the problem. But for
me, it is not up for discussion on whether we can or we cannot - WE MUST. The most overwhelming factor is the state of the
economy. A better economy will improve the standard of living, which will minus negative social habits and inevitably reduce
Governments in the region have only been giving lip service to the development of the police forces in the region. Today our
officers are still operating with old obsolete equipment, while the criminals have modern hardware. Speak to officers and
you will see how much morale among their ranks are lacking. Today officers are working only because there is a little money
at the end of the month, REAL COMMITMENT IS LACKING. And there is the need for less political interference in the affairs
of the police force. The political bosses need to equip the officers and spend much more on training; if this is not done
we will continue to experience a continued rise in crime in the region
We can argue that the family is responsible for raising children. However, as we are all aware, there are more single parents
in the Caribbean then ever before, and the family unity is diminishing. How many times have you observed two children being
raised by the same parents or a single mother, and one would become successful and the other, perhaps, would join a gang and
eventually become a criminal? I am confident that if measures are put in place by the government to reduce, or even eliminate,
this crime epidemic, it can be done! Effective training for police officers and, perhaps, CCTV cameras are just a few measures
which can be implemented. I am convinced that this crime issue can be managed once the government takes serious action.
I have been to many islands in the Caribbean and I have to ask the question "Law enforcement; does it exist in the Caribbean?"
It pains me to say this but the Police need policing more than some of the criminals. Respect is earned - its not a right.
The lack of fear and respect are reflected in the crime figures.
I believe this surge of criminal activities can be attributed to two main sources: the media and family. It matters not about
government this and that! We live in an era where we are exposed to all sorts of evil, and where Christian values are pushed
out the door! Let's train our kids right! Whether we have 6 or 7! The solution can only be Jesus and education. But who knows!
Maybe we'll be fighting a losing battle cause such things have been predicted long ago!
I think when governments in the Caribbean, specifically Trinidad and Tobago, realize that education and social development
is key to a country's economic growth. And not how many financial companies we can convince to invest in the country, or how
many hotels we can build to boost tourism - only then will change take place. As a citizen of T&T, I am angry at a government
system that allows the same two political leaders to become prime minister over and over for the past 20yrs. Obviously, with
no room for new ideas, the same problems of poverty and crime will be allowed to exist. In a country where the poor only get
poorer, and the social elite only getting richer, and ministers of parliament seem to have no solution to the shortage of
jobs for people who have limited skills. People then take it upon themselves to make sure they have food to eat or the latest
fashion to wear. With a police system also that outdated and police personnel who are underpaid and who are not given the
tools to successfully do their job. It’s a miracle that things aren’t in complete chaos. Then we have aid agencies like the
World Bank who say they want to help foster change but almost always leave third world countries in worst situation’s than
where they started.
I wonder whether it’s not the rate per population causing the crime rate to be so high as you pointed out in your article?
Nevertheless, the deportation of persons charged with criminal offences in the US and Europe may be one of the contributors;
another is the number of violent movies, especially cartoons that our little children are exposed to. The day they begin to
see, plays a major role, plus the games the children play on the various consoles, works a lot on their minds and controls
even their action. Another major contributor is illegal drugs, including alcohol.
It starts with the politicians. To get a vote they allow a lot of underhand things to go without due process in the courts.
When election time come around they give these people money to encourage their votes. There is also a need to bring back
hanging and the birch in a lot of these islands. A lot of the people feel they can do as they like and the law can't affect
them, because they have the political dictorate on their side, " the poor black man ", usually the saying among them.
Analysing the causes of violent crime is important in order to find practical solutions. Poverty, the drug/weapon trade, corrupt
officials, a weak judiciary, dysfunctional families, deportation, organized gangs, are just some of the issues linked to
our high rate of crime in the Caribbean. In the region, the drugs/weapon trade forms a significant part of our nation's GDP
and so our individual economies should not only grow faster than this illicit trade but offer real and tangible opportunities
to our your young people. We must also tackle corruption (including the rank-and-file) regardless of political affiliation.
Our judicial system is partially at fault too as many accused criminals can 'beat the system' by hiring high priced lawyers
(with at least seven years training) who are no match for the prosecution typically composed of untrained police officers
(in Belize typically six months training) and inexperienced prosecutors. This, along with the lack of eyewitness testimony
eventually results in acquittals with leads to vigilante justice thus intensifying the cycle of violence.
The Caribbean is living in a false economic reality, millions of tourists spending, profits go into foreign banks for foreign
investors, while the locals live with high unemployment, disease, and debts. The region has the second highest HIV/AIDS rate
after sub-Saharan Africa, one of the highest crime rates in the world, and yet it is being promoted as doing well due to its
multi-billion tourist industry. The poverty in the Caribbean is completely ignored, purposefully. The crime is a direct consequence
of that disillusion.
As a Dominican, crime in the Caribbean is due to corruption, lack of opportunity lack of education, and drugs. This needs
to change to guarantee a better future for all.
I think people should go to church more. It’s like we took Christ out in a lot of things, especially Christmas. Now is the
time to put the Almighty god first in every thing we do and say.
Crime in Trinidad and Tobago is largely attributed to the burgeoning drug trade and gang warfare. My twin island republic,
with all its coastal surveillance and anti-drug measures has failed to really put a dent on drugs passing through the island.
The drug trade brings with it a proliferation of illegal guns on the streets. And now that gangs are moving out of their traditional
spots, crime is vastly spreading.
We need to bring back flogging and hanging for criminals. There is not enough jobs but that is not an excuse. We have to have
leaders that teach young people the value of life. These young men do not have any hope so the do not care. A life means nothing
to them. We do not have adults who teach these kids the right values. Everyone wants the easy way out: how can we become rich
without working for it and the songs e.g "Get rich or die trying".
You can control how the youth will turn out to be at school and at home. A parent, whether a single mother or not should
have goals for their child, the school systems should also have goals. Polytechnics or middle colleges need to absorb youth
who cannot get jobs immediately and those who cannot go to universities. Students should be guided by their career counsellors
to enlist for such colleges early in their final year. To help those that are currently unemployed, Caribbean countries should
invite investors to establish light industries such as food processing plants to absorb those who do not like academics.
As a Jamaican I think one of our main problem for the high crime rate is the break down of the family structure in Jamaica,
and greed. There are just too many children that are without fathers. There are a great many Jamaican women that have six
or seven children and no means of support for these children, leaving them to fend for themselves from a very young age usually
resulting in stealing to survive. These children almost never go to school. Therefore with no education crime is usually the
answer from an early age.
The fundamental problem may be materialism. Even in relatively rich countries the crime rate is high because young people
are not prepared to wait too long or to work their way up the ladder. They want it now!
As a St Lucian living in Antigua who has also lived in Barbados, I see the cause as follows:
Unemployment is the major cause of crime in Jamaica today. Get young men into work or national service and off the road, also
get rid of corrupted law officers.
One of your readers has correctly stated we have only touched the surface of this story. Today we have a generation of abandoned
children. A woman has 5 children with 5 different men; kids don’t know what it is to grow up in a home where values are taught;
.where is the father? Or should I say who is the father? No wonder the only alternative is crime, We must hold the men and
women to a higher standard. Secondly the type of music only promotes sex and violence, Every month there is a carnival -
when it is not Notting Hill, Miami, Brooklyn, Toronto, all the islands of the Caribbean, with the accompanying fights and
murders. Maybe the Economist article will stir our nation to self examination
I am originally from Trinidad where the reasons for the soaring crime rate are myriad. In the first instance we have never
heard from either of the two main political parties PNM AND UNC, what were their connections to the Jamaat Al Muslimeen an
organisation which held that country to ransom in 1990 in an attempted coup, following which 114 of its members were pardoned.
Several of them were later found to be involved in criminal activity including drugs and gun running yet the highly controversial
unemployment relief programme was being run by senior officials of that organisation. I might add many of them have since
died violent deaths. Another reason is the repatriation of individuals who have committed crimes in countries such as the
US then repatriated to the twin island republic where they hold sway over young males who are easily influenced into getting
quick money through criminal activity.
To solve this find a piece of land in the Antarctica and shipped them all there and let them learn to survive - just as the
British did to the Australians.
Europe and America eradicate these crime or most of it by hanging the criminals and having a death penalty on most of these
crimes. if you were a horse thief you were HUNG. If you kill another human being then you should be executed according to
the law. This helps the economy in two ways, you stop the criminal from influencing other criminal element and the tax payers
do not have to pay to keep these elements of criminal intent to prosper in our community.
Of course we are concentrating on the symptoms while giving the Nelson's eye to the disease. The escalation of crime in Jamaica,
Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana is a product of limited opportunities for males in those societies to grow into economic independence
and self sufficiency. The politicians when they get into office are too busy getting paid to do the hard work of transforming
their nations into zones of opportunity for their peoples.
Listen to me, crimes are usually borne out of envy. You see something the other man has. You want it; you take it - by any
means necessary. I think the Economist’s article only hit the surface of this story. To effectively defeat an enemy, you must
know your enemy. Befriend it so to speak. In the Bahamas I have personally seen what leads up to those said crimes: a materialistic
need. Yes, the Bahamas is very prosperous, but there are still vast differences in levels of wealth from family to family.
Just like there is in any place in the world.
We need to address the erosion of values by the young in our population. Short term wise, we need to get a hold on the trade
in drugs and arms. Long term, we need to educate our people. Educated people make informed decisions. Education also helps
people to arise out of the impoverished way of thinking.
Specifically to Trinidad and Tobago, crime is on the rise due to a rise in materialism. People want the 'nice' things by any
means necessary. It’s like a law of nature that there must always be balance: there shouldn’t be a group of elite rich and
in the same area a group of poor. It seems that crime is a way of trying to balance the scale.
Why are we trying to treat the symptoms and not the disease? We speak of harsher punishment, what about better education for
the people, has no one seen the correlation between the countries with the higher rates of national advanced education and
their low crime rates and the countries with the higher rate of illiteracy and their high crime rate? I don't want to carry
on too long but most of the crimes are being perpetuated by young, usually not very well educated males. Why are we not addressing
The 'fear' for God and those in authority has been eroded from our societies, and I believe that families, the Church and
schools have a lot of the responsibility to share in this breakdown. Some parents have failed in the proper upbringing of
The United Nations is a useless organization and the World Bank is the modern form of Slave-Ships. These two organizations
are two of the greatest ills know to mankind today and directly linked to the crimes in our beloved Caribbean. On one hand
they claim to be agents for good and betterment of societies, on the other they are agents of the devils wrapped in British
and American flags with guns and bombs. The United Nations must put an end to Empire building and leave "free" people to seek
their own destiny. The World Bank must release the hold it has on lesser nations financially. However, nations of the Global
South, for us the Caribbean Islands, must stand up and let their voices be heard. These gun slinging youths will see a future
as long as there is one, the one they are currently seeing is blank. Education and societal differences must be addressed.
From Jamaica to Trinidad we must stand up and say, who are we? Are we out of many one, or something else? I truly believe
that these problems will be solved soon but the underlay needs to be solved also.
The so called first world nations (& UN, World Bank, etc) ought to give the Caribbean (& Africa) breathing space to evolve.
All the developed nations got there without foreign intervention – there, institutions evolved. In the Caribbean we must retain
so called primitive punishments (hanging) until our people (& society) have achieved a level where there is much respect for
lives (&private property). We can only get there through experiences.
The UN needs to clean up their own back yard before they clean others.
As a Jamaican, who left the island 30 years ago and returns to visit regularly, I find the increase in crime abhorrent. Noted
are opinions that encourage tougher laws and prosecution. No one has mentioned the importance of education, employment, and
increased pay for those that remain in the islands. What hope is left for the poor and destitute when they see no other viable
options in life? Increased policing, oversight, are options, but are ineffective without gains for common man.
I can only speak of Barbados, but other islands are likely similar. My own personal experience is the general crime I have encountered is "crime of opportunity": A handbag left unattended on or near a beach is a common target. A more brazen (and unfortunately very successful) theft took place in an apartment one night. The thief climbed a tree into the apartment bedroom. He emptied a wallet, carefully replaced it into the pants, folded them neatly, and placed them back on the bed. The robbed tourist was completely unaware until next day when he went to pay for an item. One cannot help but think of how carefully the thief took care of the clothing.
In another case a drug dealer plied his trade in conjunction with a guard at a beach hotel! The guard "advises" the would-be buyer where he or she can fulfil their "bad habit". The dealer showed up like clockwork on his motor bike at almost the same time and place every single day, with his merchandise. All this within a stones throw of a police station.
Being an international destination, the island harbours other interests as well. Occasionally, a longboat powered by 3 highly
modified outboard engines will zip up from a nearby island and drop ship a cargo of ganja (Marijuana). The boat can be made
locally, but a 200Hp engine cannot, and there cannot be that many facilities with the tooling to modify them. They engines
have to be imported. We have some modern day Pirates of the Caribbean making a lot of illicit money either under the noses
or with the protection of the authorities.
The cause of crime is as a result of the breakdown in values and proper parenting. Too many parents raise their children in
a very selfish manner, causing a breakdown in community togetherness, and eventually a breakdown in respect for each other;
and also no respect for property and lives
We get rewards or penalized for fighting, or not doing enough to fight drugs going to America from our shores, yet there is
no consideration for the guns coming from the USA to our shores. Guns are the biggest factor in most violent crime in the
Caribbean, and we all know guns don't swim. The solution? Beats me, but a good start could be to levy a fine against the customs
departments and the respective governments of any country that these guns come from, and take them to the U.N. for human rights
Crime is the product of a society. So you could have the best trained police officers, even Scotland Yard, but as long as
their are social ills within your country, then crime will go on. Bob Marley said it best. If the youths are given better
opportunities in life then maybe they would turn to something else other crime. Like for instance if you have a basic man’s
pay, and apply for a US visa, you will get turned down, but if you want to join their army and pick up arms and be trained
to be a killer then you can become a citizen - what kind of message is the international community sending? They are the
ones who had raped us for many years of our resources and left us to fight for our own.
Let’s see; we need to eliminate CORRUPT law enforcements officials. I am a returning resident since 2006, and it’s horrifying
what I see in Jamaica today. The elimination of CORRUPTION AMONGST THE HIGHEST OFFICIALS should be a big priority for our
new government. Jamaica's motto should be "See no Evil, Hear no Evil"!!!!!
Caribbean governments are so busy running after the tourism dollars, that they are forgetting why tourists came there in
the first place; "to relax, take it easy- with peace and quiet". The governments need an audit of all their security procedures
and proceed accordingly.
This has been a growing problem for us all, credit but be paid to the Economist for turning heads to this great human problem.
As a Jamaican, I have seen my country went from bad to worst in fromt my eyes. I have seen a strong culture raped and weaken
itself knowingly; this is sad. However, as a member of this culture I am also to be blamed, we are all to be blamed. The Caribbean
must act now to curb this sore on such a lovely part of our world. The police must get better training, the people in elected
office must get better training also and the public has a part to play also; report crimes. This is a problem we can solve
with help from those above us, the U.S and Europe. Poverty must be addressed and education must be addressed. However, with
what we know now, it is time to act!
Hooray to the Economist! This is just the sort of publicity that the governments don't want. Should we dare hope that the
shame of it will prompt them to action? Will they look to revolutionise the way they train police, carry out investigations,
try criminals and handle the drug situation? Will they seriously try to stamp out the corruption in the police forces? Or
will they just whine and say they're "trying" and that the situation isn't as bad as people make it sound?
The justice system in the Caribbean is too slow. Cases take forever to get to court, hence most charges are dismissed by then
or complainants aren't interested anymore.
Build more prisons, longer sentences for violent offenders, boot camp for teenagers, crack down on gangs and finaly capital
punishment for those convicted of murder.
The Customs officers at air and seaports must be be better TRAINED, regulated, supervised and punished for flagrant violation
of the rules pertaining to their duty. 90% of these arms come through our boarders on sombody's watch. On the other side of
the coin the governments need to recognize that Customs officers are the first line of defence against terrorism and crime
and therefore should hire the best people and pay them decent wages so as to deter the temptation of bribery.
Crime levels in the region will not abate so long as national security continues to be treated by political parties as a
"football" and by citizens as a concern only for the police and Governments. Crime flourishes in a climate of complicity when
family and community members knowingly protect those who commit crime and enjoy the fruits of their labours.