Bermuda Passes “Hoodie” Law

February 20, 2010

The House of Assembly passed a law giving the police powers to confiscate hooded sweatshirts, disperse groups hanging out and send teenagers under 17 home who are in known “hang out” areas between 9pm and 6am without their parents

The Royal Gazette reports that Police officers will have the right to seize clothing which conceals people’s identity in public places, including items like hooded tops and scarfs. This applies even if the suspect is not wearing the item at the time, and refusal to hand over the item could reportedly result in a fine of up to $2,500.

bermuda hoodie law

On January 22 of this year Attorney General & Minister of Justice Sen. The Hon. Kim N. Wilson released this statement which explains the amendment in detail:

Criminal Code Amendment Act 2010

The primary purpose of (the Criminal Code Amendment) Act will be to make certain provisions in the law to deal with problems of gangs and associated anti social behavior.

The Bill will provide a legal definition for “anti-social behavior” as any behavior by a person which causes or is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more other persons not of the same household as the person.

The Bill will also provide the police with power to disperse groups of persons who “hang out” in places known for anti-social behavior and other crimes for the purpose of harassing and causing people distress.

This section applies where a police officer, (the rank of inspector and above) has reasonable grounds for suspecting that in a locality where anti-social behavior is a significant and persistent problem AND any members of the public has been; or is likely to be intimidated, harassed, alarmed or distresses as a result of the presence or behaviors of groups of 2 or more persons in public places in that locality.

Constitution freedom of assoc and assembly… not absolute… rights do not apply in cases of national security or public safety)

The police powers further extend to their ability to remove children under the age of 17 who are found in these said areas between 9 pm and 6 am. Without any parental control, to their homes for their own safety.

Further, to enhance the police powers of stop and search in anticipation of violence, the time limit for an inspector to give authorization for such powers has been extended from 24 hours to 2 weeks.

Finally, this act will provide the police with powers to require persons in public place who wear items which a police officer suspects is worn for the purpose of concealing their identity. (Intelligence supports football game… hoodies and face scarves etc.)

In reaction to “inaccurate rumours” Premier Dr. Ewart Brown set the record straight:

There seems to be much confusion over the new law about “hoodies”. Some people have spread the word that the wearing of “hoodies” is now illegal. That is NOT true. The new law allows police officers who suspect criminal conduct to ask the wearer to remove the hood.

Junior Justice Minister Michael Scott further explained the essence of the law:

Again it is not a silver bullet law the so called Hoodie Law it has been pulled into play and once the community sees violent crime stats erode then this amendment has provision to have its life span last until 2013 when it will fall away, provided we have put a real dent in violent gun crime.

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Category: All, Crime, News