Crime: Enforcement And Outreach

November 17, 2011

Economic growth goes hand-in-hand with public safety and Government’s efforts to stimulate the economy will only succeed if Bermuda reins in violent crime, National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief said yesterday [Nov. 16]

Expanding on initiatives for his Ministry announced in the Throne Speech, Mr. Perinchief [pictured] said prison sentences would be increased and the island’s Proceeds of Crime laws strengthened in the coming legislative session in  a bid to curb gang-related activity in Bermuda.

“Strong enforcement is only part of the equation and recognising this, the Government continues to work collaboratively with public and private sector partners in the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force,” he said.

“The work of this body at its various levels is critical to presenting alternative lifestyles to those who fall prey to the lure of gang culture.

“We are on the cusp of identifying a gang mediator who will operate free from any agency mandate to facilitate what we understand to be the genuine desire of those gang members who want to ‘get out’. Further, a Bermudianised version of Operation Ceasefire will be implemented in support of these efforts.”

Mr. Perinchief’s remarks appear in full below:

This Government’s work on job creation and on stimulating the island’s economy can only be successful if the community is a safe one in which to live, work and do business. The Ministry of National Security is committed to making safe for all of our people.

The Bermuda Police Service has demonstrated time and again that its policing strategy is successful and the hard work of its officers is rewarded by increased public support and energized communities.

The partnership evident in Community Action Teams and the ordinary residents who support them speaks eloquently to the Throne Speech’s central theme; Let us build one another together.

Oversight of the relationship between the Police and the public is important. Natural justice demands that citizens have a meaningful avenue to complain about any conduct they feel is unwarranted.

Modern policing embraces the work of bodies like the Police Complaints Authority as a means to fault-check internal actions and also to inspire confidence in the accountability of those institutions of which we demand high standards.

The Authority will secure greater investigative resources to process complaints faster and research is underway to determine an effective means by which to provide complainants and the Police Service with some form of finality with respect to the Authority’s findings.

In the fight against gang activity, other jurisdictions have introduced draconian legislation which significantly restricts the traditional rights of the individual.
The scourge of gang violence has so impacted countries around the world that Governments have been forced to aggressively meet the challenges posed to public safety. Bermuda is not exempt from the requirement to make tough decisions.

Earlier this year the Government passed legislation to permit the seizure of cash in certain circumstances.

During this Session I will invite the Legislature to consider strengthening the Proceeds of Crime regime to permit the seizure of property reasonably suspected to be the proceeds of crime. We must take the profit and benefit out of the criminal lifestyle and dealing with property will hit at the heart of criminal enterprise.

In addition to the proceeds of crime amendments we must allow the Courts to reflect public concern in sentencing. The criminal justice system must be equipped to act on the evidence accepted by juries where offences have been committed as part of unlawful gang activity.

With my colleague the Minister of Justice, I am working through a sentencing regime that proposes to impose an additional period of imprisonment or an additional fine on top of any sentence handed down for a crime committed as part of unlawful gang activity.

The quality of life we enjoy has been achieved through hard work and innovation. This Government will not allow a minority to interfere with the basic right to safe communities.

Strong enforcement is only part of the equation and recognizing this, the Government continues to work collaboratively with public and private sector partners in the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force.

The work of this body at its various levels is critical to presenting alternative lifestyles to those who fall prey to the lure of gang culture.

We are on the cusp of identifying a gang mediator who will operate free from any agency mandate to facilitate what we understand to be the genuine desire of those gang members who want to “get out”.

Further, a Bermudianised version of Operation Ceasefire will be implemented in support of these efforts.

During this Session I will also lead a debate on amendments to the Defense Act. The establishment of conscription has survived challenges in the highest courts in the land and the mission of the Bermuda Regiment enjoys this Government’s full support.

The Commanding Officer is keenly aware of the need to be modern and has recommended changes to the Act that will provide a framework for disciplinary action in keeping with military best practice and natural justice.

I have spent considerable time with all ranks of the Bermuda Regiment and I find them to be committed to professionalism and service. I have also perceived a willingness to enhance their role in the community and to this end; my aim is to develop a greater and more diverse role for a full time component of the Regiment.

This will relieve the Police of some tasks and allow them to focus on their core function.

From this initiative we hope to gain better trained, more motivated men and women in both organizations and better service to the public at large.

The commitments to outlawing sham marriages and the issues surrounding land policy will be fleshed out subsequently. The emotive nature of those areas means that “the devil is truly in the detail”.

I have set out the Ministry’s position for the consideration of Cabinet and have provided my colleagues with the research we have conducted in both areas. I expect to have a clear indication of the detailed policy intentions in the very near future.

Perhaps the most famous campaign war-room sign was “It’s the economy, stupid!” that featured in President Clinton’s era. Between Music Box and Alaska Hall, I’m sure that sign will also find a home. However, no economy can thrive without public safety and vibrant, empowered communities.

The work of the Ministry of National Security is equally as important as the work of the other agencies of Government focused on economic recovery and providing assistance to our people. We are committed to that work and to providing safer communities for the people of Bermuda.

Thank you.

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Comments (5)

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  1. JKR says:

    I certainly agree that dealing with violent crime is imperative and I commend the Police Force for their efforts in tackling the gang problem. However, there are other forms of crime that are taking place that seem to get very little Police attention that are also critical threats to public safety and our attractiveness as a business and tourism destination.
    Chief among these is the attrocious behaviour that has become increasingly more prevalent on our public roads.Excessive speeding and dangerous driving seems to have become the norm instead of the exception – at all hours of the day and night, with very little being done by the police to address it. It really is a wonder that there aren’t more road deaths on this Island! One very common behaviour on the roads is the habit of many people not to turn their lights on in the pre dawn and post sunset hours. This is extremely dangerous, particularly with all of the hidden driveways that we have. I often pull out of my estate road in the early morning but can’t see traffic coming in the roadside mirror because of the lack of headlights, resulting in many near collisions. This behaviour takes place among commercial vehicles, buses and even the police themselves! There really needs to be a focus on training the Police in traffic safety and enforcement – and then an effort to educate the driving public.
    Another area of policing that seems to have gone away is foot patrols throughout the City of Hamilton. With an increasing incidence of anti-social behaviour both day and night it should be a high priority of the government and the police to ensure that there is an adequate visible police presence to deter anti-social behaviour and protect out residents and visitors alike, which is clearly not happening at the moment. The number of vagrants that loiter around in public places – including the steps of City Hall – is disturbing and embarassing and I can’t fathom how our Government and Police allow this behaviour to take place with no apparent effort or interest in detering it.

  2. Terry says:

    Too busy chasing murderers. Regiment should patrol these areas.

    Haitti?

  3. drunkenUrsula says:

    police are too busy bothering folk like me you drink RUM, leave us alone…burp excuse me!

  4. Allan G says:

    My concern is for the aftermath. Many of us forget that a multiprong consistent approach is necessary. California is a perfect example of tighter laws and longer prison sentences but now their jails are overcroweded holding up to 4 and 5 times what they were designed for. Also the system is a significant tax burden. When these bigger number of criminals are released, there’s a puny integration system back into society and it seems as if BDA is no different. We need to find a way to rehabilitate, integrate and forget (not in all cases) in order for these individuals to be respectable citizens again. Education and skill development must be mandatory in order to be in prison…we need to have employers that will give them a second chance and a system that forgives a debt after 10, 15 years.

  5. insanity says:

    all the island needs to do is decriminalize weed. first it will increase the budget for more serious crimes. Over 50% of the jail pop in bda is because of weed. if this happened the crime rate will drop the gangs loose a large portion of funding and ppl will stop sticking ppl up and robbing them. have you noticed most of the gun related deaths is due to a drug mishap or bust. govt needs to control the substance and dispense it to the public so it can be regulated and govt has a new large source of revenue. the studies are there proving this true in the us. come on bda its time to open your eyes and mind.