The final statistics for 2020 showed that last year murders were down overall in Belize. The Belize Crime Observatory compiled and analyzed the 2020 crime statistics. The agency says that Belize’s murder rate is below what is considered civil war levels for the first time in seven years. Overall, major crimes have decreased with murders down by almost twenty-five percent. Despite an overall reduction in murders, in 2020, Belize City proved problematic for law enforcement. According to the B.C.O., while murders didn’t increase in the city, neither did they decrease. Here’s more on the 2020 murder stats.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
Belize recorded one hundred and two murders in 2020, that
s thirty-two murders fewer than 2019’s murder count which saw one hundred and thirty two murders for that year. This number represents a twenty-three point eighty-eight decline in the national murder count.
According to the Belize Crime Observatory, this figure puts Belize
s murder rate the lowest since 2013, at exactly 24.33 per 100,000 inhabitants.
But of those one hundred and two murders – police were able to make fifty five arrests in 2020 or fifty-three point nine two percent. When compared to 2019 – there were fifty one arrests – four more than 2020 but because there were one hundred and thirty-four murders – this put the arrest rate at thirty-eight point zero six percent for 2019.
While there was a reduction in murders nationally, interestingly, the murder stats didn’t change for Belize City. In 2020, forty-seven murders were committed in Belize City – the same number committed in 2019.
A breakdown of the numbers shows that the south side of Belize City continues to register increasing number of murders. According to the Belize Crime Observatory, “the situation improved in Precincts 3 and 4 (the city’s north side) but worsened in Precincts 1 and 2 (the city’s south side). No murders were recorded in Precinct 4.”
A look at this murder stats shows that the south side of Belize City continues to be problem for law enforcement, despite the police department’s targeted measures implemented last year. For instance, at the start of March 2020, a series of States of Emergencies were put in place specifically to curb gang related crimes on the south side, which have been largely responsible for the murders. Following a spate of violence in March, the Belize Police Department carried out multiple operations to target gang operatives.
ACP Marco Vidal, Commander of Operations [File: March 18
“We planned an operation that will carry us throughout the period that’s necessary and so this morning at three a.m., we launched an operation that is targeted, it is not random. It is targeted at the gang elements who have been causing the issues for us in terms of the violent crimes. So, since this morning, from three until current, we have just over eighty-two persons detained.”
Those operations formed a part of the states of emergency that followed on the south side – where dozens of gang operatives were detained and jailed to curb the violence.
ACP Marco Vidal
“The operation is continuing so we may have increased numbers by the end of the day; however, our operation is being targeted in eight zones that have been declared as the emergency areas for the state of emergency.”
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police [File: March 18
“The police presence will be maintained in these areas of declared emergency areas with a view to ensure that we stay on top of the criminals.”
Michael Peyrefitte, Minister of National Security [File: March 18
“This is where we are at this moment under the regulations that have been signed by the Governor General and that will be printed and distributed today. These people can be detained for up to thirty days, within seven days they will be told as to the reason for their detention, after fourteen days the public will get a list of those people. After that thirty-day period, the government can decide through the National Assembly to extend it for up to a year and beyond that if we have to. We are not playing with these people.”
On the heels of that state of emergency, the state of emergency and movement restrictions to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic followed. Overall, while these measures may have impacted other major crimes – despite increased boots on the grounds and operations the same number of murders were committed in the city – with numbers worsening on the south side.
While Belize City didn’t record a decline in murders – the national stats segmented by districts showed where improvements were made. In the Belize District – there were fifty nine murders in 2020 while 2019 saw seventy six murders committed; In Orange Walk murders were down from eight to three; Cayo saw murders down from twenty-five to twelve; and in Toledo the murder count was at seven – one fewer than 2019. On the other hand, Corozal saw an increase from four murders in 2019 to seven in 2020; Stann Creek also saw a small increase from thirteen to fourteen murders. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.