The U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) recently published its 2017 Crime & Safety Report regarding the Bahamas.
The council, which was established under authority of the U.S. Secretary of State, reached the following findings and conclusions:
- The Bahamas is a major Caribbean tourist destination with major cruise ship ports of calls in Nassau and Freeport.
- Over six million U.S. citizens visit the Bahamas each year.
- Approximately 80% of tourists to the Bahamas are U.S. citizens.
- The Bahamas consists of more than 700 islands and cays.
- The Bahamas has a population of approximately 370,000.
- 70% of Bahamians (around 260,000) reside on the island of New Providence, where Nassau is situated.
- Another 15% (around 60,000) live on Grand Bahama, where Freeport is located.
- The rest of the population is dispersed over several dozen outer islands (commonly referred to as the “Family Islands”).
Conclusions – Crime Threats:
- Crime in Nassau is critical.
- Violent crime reportedly dropped from 2015 to 2016 by double digit percentages in every category, although some observers have questioned the legitimacy of this claim.
- Murders were down 24% from a record high in 2015 (111 in 2016 vs. 146 in 2015).
- Despite the publicized numbers, crime continues to represent the primary security threat in the Bahamas.
- The preponderance of reported violent crimes were perpetrated against local Bahamians and mostly occurred in areas of saturated criminality not typically visited by tourists.
- However, New Providence has witnessed violent crimes in locations more commonly frequented by U.S. citizen tourists. In some instances, these incidents resulted in fatalities.
- Criminality and violent crime has increased on Grand Bahama island, notably crimes involving the use of machetes.
- Many criminals carry firearms, machetes, or knives, and these weapons are commonly brandished.
- There were reports of firearms used in the commission of armed robberies, where the assailant assaulted the victim after the victim resisted.
- Many armed robberies involved snatch-and-grabs involving purses, jewelry, cell phones, and cash.
- Armed robberies, property crimes, purse snatchings, theft, fraud, and sexual assaults remain the most common crimes perpetrated against tourists.
- In 2016, numerous incidents were reported that either involved tourists or occurred in well-known tourist locations.
- Crimes occurred near popular tourist areas adjacent to the cruise ship port (Prince George Wharf) and the Cable Beach resort areas as well as the popular downtown area.
- Several armed robberies of U.S. citizens have occurred in daylight hours in heavily frequented tourist areas.
- The water sports rental industry is only loosely regulated, and in 2015, there were reported sexual assaults of U.S. citizens, including minors, by jet-ski operators.
- The majority of these sexual assaults were reported to have occurred on relatively “safe” beaches within the confines of Paradise Island, which is heavily frequented by tourists . . .
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Photo credit: Bahamas government – Public Domain, commons / wikimedia.