Overall crime in the Cayman Islands fell by nearly a third while COVID-19 hard and soft curfew restrictions were in place between the last week of March and the end of May, according to statistics released Friday by police.

According to mid-year crime data released by the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, from 23 March, when curfew restrictions were put in place, until 31 May, 602 crimes recorded in Cayman, a drop of 30.9%, or 290 offences, compared to the same period in 2019.

Prior to the restrictions being put in place, crime for the first three months of year had been on the increase, compared to 2019, the RCIPS said. Between 1 Jan. and 22 March, 986 crimes were reported – a 14.5% increase in crimes compared to the same period in 2019.

However, police said COVID-19 restrictions reduced opportunities for criminals.

“In the first three months of 2020, there were substantial increases in total recorded crime compared to the same period for 2019,” the RCIPS report noted. “Since [COVID-19] restrictions were introduced, total recorded crime has reduced by nearly a third. It is inferred that without the unique conditions associated with [COVID-19], overall crime would have increased to date in 2020 compared to 2019.”

Before COVID (1 Jan.-22 March)

The largest reported crime category from 1 Jan. to 22 March, was ‘acquisitive crimes’, such as burglaries, robberies and thefts, with the numbers unchanged from the previous year. The RCIPS statistics report showed that 268 such crimes were reported during that period – the same as in the 2019 reports.

The second-highest reported crime category during this period was public-order offences, such as causing fear or provocation of violence; causing harassment, alarm or distress; damage to property; or being drunk and disorderly. A total of 265 such crimes were reported in this category – 33 more incidents than over the same period in 2019.

‘Violence against the person’ was the third-largest category of crimes during that period, and included offences such as assaults and wounding. Between 1 Jan. and 22 March, 226 such crimes were reported, the vast majority of which were common assaults (101 reports) and assault causing actual bodily harm (109 reports). For the same period in 2019, there were 208 such crimes reported.

During COVID (23 March-31 May)

Since COVID-19 suppression restrictions were announced on 23 March, police recorded decreases in reported crime across all categories.

Firearms crimes dropped from six reports between 23 March and 31 May in 2019 to two incidents over the same period this year.

Burglaries, robberies and thefts fell by 56% during the COVID-19 lockdown. Police said 133 such crimes were reported between 23 March and the end of May compared to 304 recorded during the same period in 2019.

There was also a major decrease in the number of drug-related crimes. During the lockdown, 24 drug crimes were recorded, compared to 38 in the 2019 period, equating to a reduction of 37%.

The RCIPS said in the report, “Drug crimes were increasing substantially at the start of the year but over the [COVID-19] period have then noticeably reduced… It is inferred that the restrictions on movement outside of the home, coupled with the closure of the night-time economy have resulted in less visible signs of drug consumption.”

Drug crimes had seen an increase of 64% between 1 Jan. and 22 March this year compared to the 2019 figures – 49 offences compared to 30 over the same time frame in 2019.

During the curfew period, there was also a 25% drop in the number of sexual crimes – 12, compared to 16 for the same period in 2019.

Those months also saw a drop in ‘violence against the person’ offences – 143 this year versus 192 in 2019.

Despite the overall drop in crime during the COVID-19 crisis, police noted that the ‘Stay Home Cayman’ restrictions may have led to more disputes between neighbours and to a rise in certain types of public-order offences.

Overall, there was a small drop in public-order offences during this period – 154 compared to 158.

The RCIPS noted, “The key areas of Public Order crime where there have been increases in [the first five months of] 2020 are intentional harassment (+8 cases); harassment, alarm or distress (+11); and threat to kill, cause serious harm or damage [to] property (+26). This is inferred to be local disputes between neighbours exacerbated by the Covid restrictions.”

However, police said there had been a marked reduction in drunk and disorderly offences (-10) “linked to the shutdown of the night time economy over the Covid period”.

See the full report here.

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