Bahamian criminal deportees from the United States are presenting a challenge for law enforcement officers, National Security Minister O. A. T. “Tommy” Turnquest said, on Wednesday, August 13, 2008.

Since 2004, about 71 persons each year were deported to The Bahamas from the US for committing crimes in that country, he told the Rotary Club of South East Nassau.

Of the total 284 deportees, 109 were charged with drug trafficking in the US. Others were charged with crimes ranging murder, firearms smuggling, human smuggling and armed robbery to petty theft and overstaying their time, Mr Turnquest explained.

“Some criminal deportees have fallen afoul of the law upon their return to The Bahamas, and present a challenge for law enforcement officers,” he said.

About 50 of the deportees have subsequently been charged with crimes ranging from murder to drug possession, firearms possession and human smuggling, to a range of minor offences, he confirmed.

Mr. Turnquest was speaking on ‘Crime in the Bahamas: Beyond the Statistics.’

“The crime situation is grave and calls for an anti-crime effort in which all of us must participate,” said Mr. Turnquest. “The picture painted of crimes against the person, particularly violent crime, is a gloomy one.”

The Bahamas recorded 42 murders so far this year, he said

Although this number remains “significant,” he said, it does represent a decrease from the 50 murders committed during the same period last year.

Statistics also show that some 7 out of 10 murder victims knew their assailants, he said.

“It also tells us that the motive for the vast majority of murders is retaliation or revenge,” said Mr. Turnquest. “Others stem from domestic violence and armed robbery. We can conclude, therefore, that murder in The Bahamas is not generally a random act.”

Armed robbery is also down from 524 incidences in 2007 to 454 this year. Rape was up by two to 83 incidences this year, Mr Turnquest said.

“The picture the statistics paint of crime against property was equally as disturbing,” he said. “While some crimes in this category are slightly down from last year, the numbers continue to be too high.”

Housebreakings went from 1,688 in 2007 to 1,650 in 2008, shop-breakings from 994 in 2007 to 966 in 2008 and incidences of stolen vehicles increased from 647 in 2007 to 790 in 2008.

“Our spiralling crime rate is reflected in a significant prison population,” he said. “As at today’s date, the inmate population of Her Majesty’s Prison stood at 1,358 persons.

“Of this number, 626 are on remand, and 732 are sentenced. There are 1,312 males and 46 females incarcerated.”

Mr. Turnquest said he was saddened that young Bahamians continue to go to prison in significant numbers and now “they are going at a younger age.”

Much of the particularly violent crime being experienced, especially in New Providence, he said, “originates in trans-national criminal activities that violate our maritime territory.”

“Seizure figures underscore the yeoman service being rendered by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Royal Bahamas Police Force in their efforts to keep illicit drugs and arms smuggling out of our islands.

“We can now more accurately monitor the impact of illicit drug trafficking and drug abuse on the population of The Bahamas, rationalise our responses, and meet our international obligations for data on The Bahamas anti drug efforts now that there is a fully functioning National Anti-Drug Secretariat (NADS) in the Ministry of National Security,” he said.