There were at least 42 murders in Barbados last year. Under normal circumstances, I publish murder stats on a monthly basis (I have data going back to 2017). However, COVID-19 analysis kept me busy for most of last year, and I quickly lost track of 2020 murders. This post remedies that and looks at all of 2020 in one article.
My data analysis consisted of five steps:
- Defining the question (or problem in this case) – The lack of detailed publicly available information on violent crime – murders in particular – in Barbados. This step also incudes identifying data sources.
- Collecting the data – This is probably the least exciting part of data analysis. For the murder statistics related to Barbados, this usually involves me monitoring the news (The Nation, Barbados Today, Loop Barbados, et cetera) for reports of murders. Observations are then entered into an Excel sheet under several headings (Name, Age, Address, Parish, et cetera). For 2020, I contracted out this step.
- Cleaning the data – This involved removing errors as well as unwanted data, filling in missing data, and bringing structure to the data (i.e., new or modifications to existing columns, typos, formatting, et cetera). This is where I also decided which records to count as part of the data analysis and which to disregard. This step is probably the most time consuming.
- Analyzing the data – This is the exciting bit, and I limit my analysis to descriptive analysis only, i.e., what has happened (42 murders in 2020) vs. predictive (there will be ‘X’ murders….). I do not engage in diagnostic analysis (why murders in Barbados occur), or prescriptive analysis (recommendations on what should be done about murders in Barbados).
- Visual and sharing findings or results – This is self-explanatory.
Figure 1 Discussion – An attack which occurs in one parish may result in the victim dying in another. For example, if someone is shot or stabbed in St. George, they may die on the way to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (in St. Michael). For my analysis, I look at the parish where the attack – which resulted in death – took place and not where the victim actually died. While I counted 42 murders, I could only assign 39 of them to parishes based on media reports. Furthermore, while I do record police killings, I do not include them in my count.
Figure 2 Discussion – An excerpt of the cleaned table showing 43 killings. The observation in blue is the police shooting which I do not include. Observations in grey are when the parish of the attack that led to death is unknown.
Figures 3 and 4 Discussion – Looking at murder values by parish alone without considering the size of the population in each parish can be misleading. As such, I also calculate murders per capita values utilizing parish population data taken from the 2010 Barbados census. Note: The total is 39. This is because there was one police shooting which was not included in the count, and three victims where it was not possible to confirm where the attack occurred (only where the body was found).
Figure 5 Discussion – The total number of murders by month (42). Note: this does not include the police shooting of Raheem Grimes which occurred in October, but it does include the three victims who previously could not be assigned to parishes in Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Figure 6 Discussion – The number of murders by parish, also includes the number of murders where the attack that resulted in death either immediately, or at a later time or date, was unknown (3). The total here is 42 and does not include the police shooting.
Figure 7 Discussion – This chart looks at the number of murders by shooting, stabbing/knife, other or unknown. Other may include beatings for example. Unknown is where it is not clear – based on media reports collected – what happened during the attack that led to death (i.e., was it beating related, shooting, et cetera?). The total here is 42 and does not include the police shooting.
Figure 8 Discussion – The number of murders by age group. The total here is 42 (including 3 that I was unable to assign to a specific age group based on available media reports). The total does not include the police shooting.
Figure 9 Discussion – The number of victims by gender (42 in total) not counting the police shooting victim.
Figure 10 Discussion – This is a new chart that looks at Time. My prior analysis never included time, as an exact time of attack (that led to death) is difficult to pin point. Still, time is an interesting variable to me and makes the analysis more comprehensive. To fix this, I took whatever mention of time was made in the media and looked at it from the perspective of a 24-hour work schedule. These schedules usually consist of three 8-hour shifts. I found a sample of a 24-hour shift online with times and used it for my analysis. The total here is again 42 (not counting the police shooting). From the above, most attacks that led to deaths occurred during 3 PM to 11 PM. However, it is worth noting that 8 of the 42 deaths could not be assigned (Unknown).
Figure 11 Discussion – This is another new chart. Originally, I wanted to look at what days of the week attacks occur to see if there were any that stood out. However, it is wasn’t immediately clear in all observations for 2020 the day the attack occurred, but there are some observations where a victim went missing one day and was found dead another day (during the same week). To capture this as best as possible, I use work week (Monday through Thursday) and week end (Friday to Sunday). The total here again is 42 (not counting the police shooting).
A few words on the limitations and applications of this analysis. First and foremost, the information presented here does not represent any ‘official’ statistics and should never be considered authoritative relative to what the Government of Barbados, its respective MDA’s (Ministries, Departments and Agencies) and the Royal Barbados Police Force publish. Secondly, the word ‘murder’ has legal meaning in most if not all parts of the world. In my post, I am not using the word ‘murder’ in the legal sense. Finally, the information presented here is the product of media reports, not first-hand reporting (as I am not there when the murder occurs, or even afterwards conducting interviews).