Good afternoon. The first thing I would like to address is the reason for the late arrival of the end of year report that would ordinarily have been released before now. The delay was caused by a computer crash last July where we lost about two weeks of data. Considerable effort went into trying to recover the data both electronically and through paper records but despite our best efforts we were not able to reconcile 100% of everything that was reported in those two weeks. What we have done is ensured that all major and serious crimes and anything to do with gun crime have been accurately reflected in the report. But it is likely that some minor complaints are not included and that means we cannot verify the report as 100% complete, although the impact will only be negligible.

Turning to the crime report there is, as could be expected, some good news and some not-so-good news. For clarity my comparisons are year-to-year as opposed to quarter with quarter.  The overall picture is that the long-term trend of total crime in Bermuda continues to be decreasing. Total crime in 2012 was 3,989 offences, down by 8.7% from the year before which was 4,371. This is the lowest annual crime rate in over twelve years.

The rates of firearm incidents are below the numbers in 2010 but still much higher than anyone would want. Comparing the last three years there were 54 confirmed firearms incidents in 2010, 26 in 2011 and 30 firearms incidents in 2012. 7 gun murders were committed in 2010 with 29 shooting injuries; 5 murders in 2011 with 11 injuries and 5 murders in 2012 with 7 injuries.

Crimes against the community, which includes antisocial behaviour offences and all firearm offences, stands at 772 for the year which is the lowest since 2009 but not lower than the rates of 2008 and earlier.

Crimes against property which includes all categories of burglary stands at about 2500 offences, which is the lowest rate in several years. It represents an 11% reduction over the year before and a reduction of about 1000 offences when compared with 2009.

Road traffic collisions continue to fall for the fifth year in a row, and the total number of 1,815 is a reduction of 7% from the previous year. For two years now, the total number of collisions remains below 2,000 annually. However, the number of fatal traffic collisions continues to be extremely worrying and by comparison Bermuda recorded 17 fatalities in 2008, 13 in 2009, 13 in 2010, 9 in 2011 and 9 in 2012.

A new category in this year's report is the measurement of enforcement activity using the Proceeds of Crime Act and this is been brought about mainly by amendments to Section 50 of the Act that provides for the seizure of cash and valuables that are suspiciously held. Approximately $340,000 worth of cash was seized in 2012, a further $632,000 was ordered by the Court to be confiscated and $200,000 was ordered by the court to be forfeited, for a total of $1.172 million.

That is a summary of the highlights of the report and I want to add a preview of some of the policing plans we are developing for this year. Clearly, the four operational priorities that we've had for the last three years cannot change: guns, gangs, drugs and violence are still causing Bermuda the most harm and the most fear. We will continue to focus our resources against those crimes and our enforcement strategy still has three basic moving parts: investigative capacity (solving the crimes), gang suppression (disrupting the movement and activities of gang members) and community engagement (enhancing community confidence and gathering information).

But the public are also looking for additional priorities. On 31st January we held a town hall meeting at St. Paul's Centennial Hall. Three clear things came out of that meeting:  (1) Members of the public want to see more police on the streets, (2) they want traffic on the roads to calm down, and (3) they want us not just to Make Bermuda Safer, but also to Make Bermuda feel Safer – in other words to reduce the fear of crime and the anxiety being felt in the community about gun crime.

It makes sense that we should increase our efforts in traffic enforcement. When you consider that more people lose their lives each year to the roads than they do to gun crime, it begs our attention. And you have already heard about our plan regarding the STEP enforcement approach.

That doesn't mean that we have to take our attention away from serious crime. It does mean that we will need to be more effective in the way we deploy our officers and combine some of their functions. Officers on patrol will work towards solving crime, disrupting gangs, enforcing traffic laws and engaging communities to promote public confidence.

Two things will help achieve this: (1) by October we will increase our staffing level to 450 officers through two Recruit Foundation Courses; (2) this year I will introduce a Response Policy that reduces the number of calls that police respond to. Essentially, this will involve the creation of a non-emergency reporting system where the attendance by a police officer is not required. The two immediate areas this will impact are non-injury road traffic collisions and private alarms that are monitored by security companies: neither of which require the police to attend and both of which take up inordinate amounts of patrol hours.

The objective here will not be to reduce the quality of service to the public, but rather to reserve our response for the most urgent calls and to keep our police officers on the street where the public can see them. In anticipation of the questions this announcement may attract, and to avoid any fears that we are withdrawing police services, I promise to give full details before we implement any new response system. But I wanted to make the point today that in order to increase our response in some areas, it is necessary to reduce our response in others. And I want to give the public some time to warm up to the idea before we make any changes.

'Police strategies on crime are working' — Minister

Today the Minister of Public Safety, the Hon. Michael H. Dunkley JP, MP, offered the following response to the release of the Bermuda Police Service’s 2012 year-end Report, which indicated an overall long-term trend of decreasing crime in Bermuda, down by 8.7% year over year, and the lowest crime rate in over 12 years.

Minister Dunkley said, “These statistics indicate that targeted Police strategies are causing crime to trend downwards and emphasize the importance of providing the Police with the resources to sustain the effort required to make even greater impact. observed.”

Minister Dunkley continued, “One gun crime is one too many and the Commissioner’s focus on guns, gangs, drugs and violence is one the Government fully supports. Serious crimes are investigated thoroughly and difficult cases are successfully prosecuted in the Courts. The message of just how senseless these crimes are is hopefully getting through and alternatives to the gang lifestyle will take hold.”

The public will recall the Government’s promise in the 2012 campaign to implement a “cash back for communities programme” using proceeds of crime in support of sports clubs and community organizations. Minister Dunkley indicated that he had already advanced this initiative and that Cabinet would shortly consider the amendments required to make it a reality.

“We are determined to turn the negatives of crime into positives for the community and using confiscated cash in this way will support those sports clubs in the vital role they play on the Island,” the Minister said.

“There is obviously more work to do and the Police are not resting on their laurels. The encouraging trends do not mean any lessening of the zero tolerance for anti-social behaviour. The renewed focus on traffic enforcement is just as important as other policing operations and this too has the Government’s full support. Like every organization the BPS is aiming to do its work more efficiently and the Commissioner’s plans to achieve this deserve the support of everyone in the community.”