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Caribbean Security Index: Now updated for 2016

By Free Cruising Guides — last modified Apr 28, 2016 03:21 PM
The Caribbean Security Index (CSI) at Free Cruising Guides, helps cruisers assess risk of crime at ports of call in the Caribbean. It provides a straightforward means of assessing the odds in a given area and tracking changes in probability.

Published: 2016-04-27 23:00:00
Topics: Piracy & Security
Countries: Anguilla , Antigua & Barbuda , Aruba , Bahamas , Barbados , Bermuda , Bonaire , British Virgin Islands , Cayman Islands , Cuba , Curacao , Dominica , Dominican Republic , Guadeloupe , Haiti , Jamaica , Martinique , Puerto Rico , Saba , Sint Maarten , Spanish Virgin Islands , St Barts , St Kitts & Nevis , St Lucia , St Martin , St Vincent & the Grenadines , Statia , Trinidad & Tobago , Turks & Caicos , US Virgin Islands , Venezuela

The CSI has now been updated for 2016 and the latest information can be seen at:

CSI ratings are derived from an examination of the relationship between crime and socio-demographic factors such as unemployment, education level, and literacy; as well as the presence (or absence) of security, infrastructure, and history of crime in a country/island.

Probabilities affect us in everything we do. The CSI does not list crimes committed in an area; it helps identify the odds going forward. Responsible skippers play close attention to weather forecasts and take advantage of weather windows; the CSI allows skippers to assess crime windows.

CSI Background

The Index is presented on a scale of 1 to 10 with any mitigating factors noted. The CSI assesses only reported incidents, a small subset of all crimes against cruisers. There is little consistency in crime reporting and/or official recording either within one country or across all countries in the Caribbean. Violent crimes (assault, frequently with robbery, and attempts) always shock the system of the cruising community and the news travels far and fast, so we are more confident of the core accuracy of these reports than of the multitude of property crimes which in many places have become a more or less tolerated nuisance like mosquitoes. They're there; they're not going away; so you use an insect repellent and sailor on. These lesser crimes can be expensive and time consuming; and there are subtle changes over time.

Area Covered by CSI

The geographic framework for CSI analysis is the Caribbean quadrant layout pioneered in A Thinking Man’s Guide to Voyages South (Virgintino):

NORTH quadrant - the Greater Antilles plus Jamaica and the Cayman Islands;

EAST quadrant - the Lesser Antilles plus Trinidad and Tobago;

SOUTHEAST quadrant - the ABCs plus the Venezuelan mainland and islands;

SOUTHWEST quadrant - coastal countries from Colombia to Mexico.

These divisions and destinations make navigational and cruising sense, and it works for CSI analysis as well. (See map below of the million square mile Caribbean basin.)

The CSI now includes the Bahamas since the majority of cruisers to the Caribbean start their journey from the east coast of North America and, depending on the route and point of entrance into the Caribbean, many cruise through the Bahamas. It makes sense to assess the likelihood of crimes against cruisers here as it is part of their cruise.

Types of Crime

In addition to the CSI, Noonsite and the Safety and Security Net chronicle crimes against cruisers that are reported to them. Each examines the issue through a different lens, but all three concern themselves with four types of crimes:

Theft – Involves neither weapons nor violence, but possibly boat boarding.

Burglary – Breaking into and entering a locked yacht while crew is away.

Robbery – Boarding of a yacht by one or more intruders, with weapons.

Assault – Injuries to and/or physical restraint of crew in the course of a robbery.

Piracy—Assault and robbery at sea.

Assault and robbery go together. Boarders armed with even a primitive knife or machete when crew is aboard can be a deadly mix. To all four categories attempts are also added, crimes that are unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. In the case of attempted theft or burglary (which do not involve weapons), getting scared off by on-board crew (ideally including a canine companion) or third parties has proved the most effective deterrent. And most recently piracy has been added, which is assault and robbery at sea.

The Caribbean Security Index is designed to assist cruisers in planning successful adventures while minimizing risks of falling victim to crime. The more incidents that are reported rather than whispered about, the sharper the picture will be.

Reporting a Crime

If you are a victim of crime whilst cruising in the Caribbean, the main point for reporting is the Caribbean Safety & Security Net (CSSN). They have an online incident reporting form, which is quick and easy to complete. Go to

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