[Opinion column written by Jeremy Deacon]
I think I can predict with some certainty that if we rely on resources as they currently stand in Bermuda, any investigation into breaches of financial rules within Government will still be on-going when those responsible are long dead.
Such is the state of the Island’s police expertise in this matter that unless a small army of outside experts are called in, justice will never be seen to be done.
The Bermuda Police Service has ten officers in the financial crime unit who can chase paper trails – and ten probably means just seven or eight at any one time when you take sickness, training and vacation time into account.
Such is the pressure on the Police budget as outlined in a Bernews interview with the Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva that it is unlikely that the number of people involved in pursuing this particular type of crime will increase.
But there is a way – it will not be popular with charities and would mean the end of a few nice photo ops for the Premier in his role as the Minister for National Security.
Currently the Proceeds of Crime Act [PDF] allows for money confiscated from criminals to be paid out to community organisations.
Whilst that is laudable, would the money be better invested in bolstering the Police Service?
I might sound hypocritical because for a long time I have highlighted the financial problems faced by charities and called for increased support for the essential services they provide.
However, in the long-run, how are we better served?
As the Commissioner said in his Bernews interview, there are overlaps between some aspects of some of the Auditor General’s report and his investigations.
In the long-run, therefore, would it be better to boost the resources available to the Police in order to finalise these investigations? Allowing him to do so would [should] mean that deficiencies in the system are exposed and righted.
It could also mean that monies are recovered [via the Proceeds of Crime Act] and anyone breaking the law would be prosecuted. In short, it could [should] mean, the system is cleaned up once and for all in a highly transparent way.
In the short-term, it might be hard for charities, but in the long-run it would be a cathartic experience to the benefit of all.
Which route would you choose?
Jeremy Deacon is a 30-year veteran of the media industry in Bermuda and the UK. He runs award-winning public relations company, Deep Blue Communications, and also engages in freelance journalism for publications in Bermuda and overseas. He is also the Executive Officer of the Media Council of Bermuda.
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