Bermuda Police reports show a rising trend in local crime rates over the last five years. Concern is warranted over recent figures that show the quarterly level of total crimes per 1000 people is up 1.05 points at 25.4 in 2008 versus 24.08 in 2007. Increased crime has led to a 15% year over year jump in the number of criminal convictions in 2008. Local courtrooms convicted 624 criminals in 2008 compared to 541 in 2007. These statistics raise public safety and economic stability concerns, but there is another issue that demands consideration.
Between them, Bermuda’s correctional facilities can comfortably accommodate 382 inmates. This figure is a tally of prison capacities at Westgate (208 inmates), “The Farm” (93 inmates), the Co-educational Facility (56 inmates at single cell occupancy) and the Transitional Living Centre (15 inmates). Bermuda’s average of 300 prisoners incarcerated at any one time means that, generally, our correctional facilities are at least 79% full. If crime continues to rise and criminal convictions grow proportionately, it is clear that before long, there will be no prison room available for use in the protection of society from miscreants – cause for considerable concern.