A Longitudinal Study of Serious Crime in the Caribbean

This study examines violent and property crime trends for nine Caribbean countries and presents a case study of Barbados. While murder rates remained relatively stable for Barbados, Dominica, Guyana and Trinidad, they increased markedly in Jamaica and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). Since 1980 robbery rates have risen sharply in St. Kitts, Barbados, and Dominica - islands increasingly penetrated by illicit drug trafficking. Rape rates also show significant increases reflecting a uniform rise in violence against women. Similar increases are observed for property crime rates with some notable exceptions suggesting under reporting. Primary factors responsible for the serious crime wave include the increasing spread of the narco economy and the emergence of a violent subculture of marginalized, unemployed youth. The case study of Barbados indicates that worsening local economic conditions, and visitor density levels to a lesser extent, impact both property and violent crime, lending some modest support for both the Durkheimian and opportunity or routine activity perspectives in the general literature on crime and development.