The following letter has been slightly cut for reasons of length.

Dear Sir,

In an article in the Royal Gazette (September 21, 2007) under the heading "Dunkley: PLP is failing us on crime" either Mr. Dunkley thinks the electorate is ignorant or he is delusional, my guess is that there is a little of both.

Mr. Dunkley seems to arbitrarily choose to compare the 2006 crime numbers to those of 1999, instead of going back as far as the statistics go on the Bermuda Police Service web site (www.bermudapolice.bm) which go back to 1996, the PLP did not become the Government until 1998.

In 1996 there were 350 total crimes of violence and within that number were six murders and six attempted murders. In 2006 the total crimes of violence was 305 with three murders and two attempted murders. Between 1997 and 2006 the total number of violent crimes did not exceed 336, which means that the highest annual number of violent crimes occurred under the UBP watch. Mr. Dunkley says that the burglary rate seem to be at the highest ever, yet in 1996 there were 223 burglaries and in 2006 there were 37. In fact in 1997, still under the UBP watch, there were 299 burglaries, which is the highest recorded. Also 1997 saw the highest total break-in offences with 1,241 compared to 2006 with 1,142.

Mr. Dunkley states that robberies are at their highest rate in 10 years, again he is incorrect as according the Bermuda Police statistics 10 years ago, 1997, there were 429 total crimes of stealing and in 2006 there were 263. The highest recorded number is 512 in 1999, which means that robbery/theft has actually declined overall in the last 10 years.

That, Mr. Dunkley, is the reality, not the statistics you choose to show. Surely, any former Government trying to retake the seat of Government would want items occurring under its watch to be compared to the items occurring under its opponents' watch. Mr. Dunkley has tried to deceive the electorate by failing to highlight the crime rates under the UBP watch. Not all of us are as ignorant as you wish us to be Mr. Dunkley, some of us will conduct our own research instead of simply taking your numbers as being gospel.

I am not for one minute stating that crime is not an issue, but is it not only fair to compare the performance of the UBP on crime to the performance of the PLP? If number are the criteria then Mr. Dunkley needs to re-think his strategy. What I find absolutely amazing is that the UBP is very quick to criticize but it has yet to state what should be done to tackle crime in Bermuda.

Negativity

I believe that one job of the Opposition is to bring forth solutions to the problems it is critiquing, especially an Opposition that claims it is ready, willing and able to take the Government, we have not seen this from the UBP. The only thing we see is criticism. Granted, the Opposition cannot implement policy but it sure can work to get the population to pressure the Government for action if the proposed action is deemed worthy. Some will say the solutions will come forward in the lead up to the election, but there were elections held nearly five years ago and during this time we have not seen the UBP pushing for the implementation of any strategy, not just crime reduction, all we get is criticism.

Come on Mr. Dunkley, step up and provide a solution to the crime problem, maybe it will work and than maybe we can give the UBP some credit for actually offering something concrete rather than simply go to the press in an effort to win an election on criticism alone.

I have heard much talk of the lack of police officers, there are currently about 450 police officers in Bermuda or one police officer for every 149 people. If the number of police officers Bermuda has on a per capita basis existed in any other jurisdiction that jurisdiction would be labelled a police state. New York City has a population of approximately 8.2 million and a police force of nearly 39,000 officers or one officer for every 210 people. The United Kingdom has a population of 60.7 million and a police force of 139,000 officers or 1 officer for every 437 people. So clearly, unless I am missing something, the number of police officers in Bermuda cannot be an issue.

Maybe it is time to follow many jurisdictions in the rest of the world and use civilian personnel for administration which will take many trained officers from behind a desk and into patrol.

Is it not the job of the Commissioner of Police to make sure the officers under his charge are properly deployed to actively prevent crime? Has the PLP Government not given the Police Service a healthy budget? Has the PLP Government done anything to prevent the efficiency of the Police Service? If the answer to these questions is 'No' than perhaps the UBP should be pointing its fingers at the senior rank of the Bermuda Police Service, or would doing so jeopardize some votes the UBP is hoping to get in the next election?

Guilden M. Gilbert, Jr.

Nassau, Bahamas