The island’s gang members can expect to face additional prison time when convicted of committing crimes as part of unlawful gang activity, with a new bill making provision for increased penalties.
Minister of National Security Wayne Perinchief tabled the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2012 [PDF] in the House of Assembly this morning [June 22], which makes provision for additional sentences where crimes are proved to be committed as part of unlawful gang activity.
“These additional sentencing powers will provide the Courts with the ability to properly reflect the public sentiment surrounding the negative effects of such crimes on this community,” said the Minister.
“No level of the criminal enterprise is spared as the Bill deliberately captures those who, in some cases quite literally, “call the shots”. The message is clear: strong enforcement, swift justice, stiff penalties.”
The Minister’s full statement follows below:
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will recall that in February of this year I set out for this Honourable House and the public, the path this Government would take to reverse the destructive influence of the gang lifestyle in this community.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise Honourable Members that today, this Government delivers on two further key aspects of those promises. I will table the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2012 which makes provision for additional sentences where crimes are proved to be committed as part of unlawful gang activity.
Mr. Speaker, these additional sentencing powers will provide the Courts with the ability to properly reflect the public sentiment surrounding the negative effects of such crimes on this community.
Mr. Speaker, no level of the criminal enterprise is spared as the Bill deliberately captures those who, in some cases quite literally, “call the shots”. The message is clear: strong enforcement, swift justice, stiff penalties.
Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, I concur with the Commissioner of Police when he says “we cannot arrest our way out of this problem”. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, this Government is also poised to deliver on its promise to devote equal energy to the preventative and helping side of the equation. Mr. Speaker, we match enforcement with prevention.
Honourable Members will have seen the announcement of the “Respect!” Campaign. Mr. Speaker, as indicated in my remarks yesterday, the promotion of this basic concept of human behaviour is designed to reinforce one of the fundamental tenets of strong communities. Using simple but powerful images, our young people will be inspired and reminded to respect our seniors; to respect their communities and most importantly, to respect each other.
Mr. Speaker, a key element of this campaign is to engender a renewed level of respect around sport and sports clubs. We must support the executives of these clubs who, in the main, work extremely hard to make their facilities family-oriented and community based.
Mr. Speaker, this Government promised gang mediation. We embraced this concept because a path out of the gang lifestyle must be provided. We cannot consign a generation of this country’s citizens to the criminal justice system and its natural conclusion of incarceration. Where there is even a glimmer of desire to make lifestyle change we must harness it and encourage that change.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise this Honourable House that a team from Boston’s Street Safe Programme arrive in Bermuda this weekend and for the coming week will conduct intensive training of the first wave of those who would form the backbone of the gang mediation initiative.
Mr. Speaker, close to 30 men and women will spend four days receiving best practice instructions from a team whose track record is enviable and who come well equipped to provide the platform for our local success. This has been achieved with cross-ministry support and at the end of the week I will be joined by the Honourable Premier and other Ministerial colleagues to provide an overview of what I expect will be a successful week’s intensive work.
Mr. Speaker, effecting change in this area is not easy. We have consulted widely, culled together key elements of various agencies and committed to delivering on what we promised the people of Bermuda.
Mr. Speaker, change is being seen in various areas. Citizens are more engaged in keeping communities safe and supporting the Police. Those who commit crime have endured strong enforcement, swift justice and stiffer penalties. Individuals who have determined that the gang lifestyle is the wrong choice will now be provided with an opportunity to exit and meaningfully contribute to this society.
Mr. Speaker, this Government promised change in this area and change is what we continue to deliver.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.