The COVID pandemic has had a direct impact on the volumes and types of criminality on the Cayman Islands reports the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
According to the RCIPS, crime overall fell by over 30% during the period of the lockdown between March 23rd and May 31st.
Although many of the restrictions have been lifted, the lockdown is still in force.
In an Interim Crime Report on COVID-19 Crime Impact, it notes that in the first three months of 2020 there were substantial increases in total recorded crime compared to the same period for 2019.
However, the RCIPS reports, “since COVID restrictions were introduced total recorded crime has reduced by a nearly a third.”
In its analysis of this trend, the RCIPS says, “It is inferred that without the unique conditions associated with COVID, overall crime would have increased to date in 2020 compared to 2019.”
“Due to the restrictions as part of the response to COVID, the opportunities for offenders to commit crime have been reduced,” it concludes.
A closer look at the crime statistics shows that between the January 1st and the end of May this year there were 1588 crimes recorded in the Cayman Islands, a reduction of 214 or just under 12% compared to the same period in 2019.
In the period before the lockdown was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic (1st January 2020 – 22nd March 2020) there were 986 crimes recorded in the Cayman Islands.
That was an increase of 128 or 14.5% compared to the same period last year.
From March 23rd when the lockdown came into force 2020 through to May 31st, 602 crimes were recorded, a reduction of 290 or around 31% compared to the same period in 2019.
The RCIPS says calls specifically related to crime, for example theft, have reduced substantially.
Due to the COVID crisis, it had started recording calls specifically related to the crisis.
On the other hand, there has been a substantial increase in the number of incidents/calls for service related to public/environment issues.
The report explains that many of the calls were due to people being confined to their homes for long periods and were very sensitive to activity in and around their property.
It said people would call the police when they are unable to obtain services to resolve concerns, for example a bees nest or rubble on the road.
The RCIPS says approximately 10% of calls so far this year have been recorded as crimes.
Violence against the Person
Between January 1st and May this year, the RCIPS says there were 376 crimes of violence recorded, compared to 400 for the same period in 2019. This equates to a reduction of 24 (-6%).
Before lockdown (January 1st to March 22nd): 226 crimes of violence were recorded, compared to 208 for the same period in 2019; an increase of 18 in total or +8%.
During lockdown (March 23rd to May 31st): 143 crimes of violence recorded, compared to 192 for the same period in 2019; a reduction of 42 or -22%.
The key findings show that in the first 3 months of 2020 violence against the person was increasing but for the COVID restrictions it has reduced by 27.2% compared to the same period for 2019.
From January 1st to May this year there were 34 sexual crimes recorded, compared to 39 for the same period in 2019, a reduction of 5 or -13%.
Before lockdown (January 1st to March 22nd): There were 22 sexual crimes recorded, compared to 23 for the same period in 2019. This equates to a reduction of 1 (-4%).
During lockdown (March 23rd to May 31st): 12 sexual crimes recorded, compared to 16 for the same period in 2019. This equates to a reduction of 4 (-25%).
This shows that the volume of sexual crimes has reduced in 2020 compared to the same period for 2019. COVID restrictions have had a noticeable impact on the volume of sexual crimes.
Between January 1st and May this year, there were 6 firearms crimes recorded, compared to 10 for the same period in 2019, a reduction of 4 or -40%.
Before lockdown (January 1st to March 22nd): There were 4 firearm crimes recorded, compared to 4 for the same period in 2019, the same as the previous year.
During lockdown (March 23rd to May 31st): Two firearms crimes recorded, compared to 6 for the same period in 2019, a reduction of 4 (-67%).
The RCIPS says the volume of firearms crimes has reduced consistently since the start of 2020, including the period of COVID restrictions.
Drug crimes were increasing substantially at the start of the year but over the COVID period have then noticeably reduced, the RCIPS says.
However, during the COVID period drug crimes related to consumption/possession of ganja and cocaine have reduced substantially.
It is believed that the restrictions on movement outside the home, coupled with the closure of the night-time economy have resulted in less visible signs of drug consumption.
Acquisitive Crime (Burglary, Criminal Trespass, Robbery and Theft)
The first 3 months of this year saw levels of acquisitive crime being stable compared to the same period in 2019.
According to the police, the COVID restrictions have had a considerable impact on the volume of acquisitive crime, with volumes down by 56% compared to the same period in 2019.
It is inferred that the volume of acquisitive crimes would have remained at similar levels to 2019 had it not been for the COVID restrictions.
During the first 3 months of 2020 levels of public order crime increased noticeably by 17% compared to the same period for 2019.
COVID restrictions have had a minor impact on the levels of public order crime and it remains 8% higher in 2020 compared to 2019.
The RCIPS says the key areas of Public Order crime where there have been increases in 2020 are Intentional Harassment (+8), Harassment Alarm or Distress (+11) and Threat to Kill, Cause Serious Harm or Damage Property (+26).
The cause of this, the RCIPS suggests could be local disputes between neighbours exacerbated by the COVID restrictions.
At the same time, it notes that there has been a marked reduction in Drunk and Disorderly Persons offences - down by 10 - linked to the shutdown of the night-time economy over the COVID period.