Premier: Addressing Increase In Serious Crimes

February 12, 2016

“Since the Christmas holidays, Bermuda has experienced a rise in serious crimes” and “our community is rightly concerned about this apparent spike in criminal activity and today I wish to address some of those concerns,” said Premier and National Security Minister Michael Dunkley today in the House of Assembly.

Premier Dunkley said, “We are a country of laws and those who break the law should expect to be brought to justice and to answer for their conduct.

“I know we can all agree the vast majority of Bermudians go about their daily lives respecting the laws of the land and encourage others to do so as well. It is a minority of our citizens who make choices that negatively affect the sense of safety and security for the law abiding majority.

“The strength of our community is shown when people come forward if they have witnessed a crime, have information that can lead to an arrest or assist the Police in their investigations.

“These courageous acts have proven successful in the past and ordinary citizens continue to have a role to play in ensuring that criminals are brought to justice.

“I am regularly briefed by the Commissioner and his senior command, and I have pledged the full support of the Government for their efforts both in investigating crime as well as the actions they must take to reduce tensions and provide reassurance to the affected communities.

Michael Dunkley Bermuda 160212

“Some of the commentary on this increase in serious crime has focused on the continuing economic challenges in our community.

“As I have said before, the economic decline this government is required to reverse is perhaps the single most important task we have. While the successes we have seen and those we can forecast are beginning to reach families in need across the island our commitment remains to bringing relief to those who most need it in a sustainable and lasting way with the sense of urgency that the situation demands.

“One of the principal ways in which we are turning the tide of the gang lifestyle is through direct intervention, meeting people where they are.  In keeping with this commitment, Team Street Safe continues to provide the critical interventions required to arrest the growth and lure of the gang culture.

“Street Safe is just one of the initiatives promoted by this government as a means to intervene and provide an alternative structure for those at risk of offending and falling into the negative influences of the gang lifestyle.

“The Inter-Agency Gang Task Force [IGTF] and the Inter-Agency Gang Enforcement Team [IGET] continue to meet this Government’s promise to bring together all of those agencies that are engaged in the prevention, management and rehabilitation of at-risk members of our society.

“Bermuda is on a path of renewal and I believe that the majority of Bermudians recognize that and are determined to see this country succeed, irrespective of political allegiances, race, employment status or economic challenges.

“This Government will continue to use every available means to promote positive lifestyle choices to our young people whose formative years must be devoted to education, sports and strong family life. We will continue the effort to prove that the gang lifestyle is no life at all and that this society needs every Bermudian fully engaged and involved in making this country successful.

“Lastly, we will continue to support the Police as they lead the fight against crime and provide strong enforcement as the vital investigative arm of the criminal justice system. Their commitment to making Bermuda safer is strengthened by our active support of their efforts.”

The Premier’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, since the Christmas holidays, Bermuda has experienced a rise in serious crimes, some involving firearms.

Our community is rightly concerned about this apparent spike in criminal activity and today I wish to address some of those concerns as the Minister of National Security.

Mr. Speaker, let me first make it clear that we are a country of laws and those who break the law should expect to be brought to justice and to answer for their conduct. I know we can all agree the vast majority of Bermudians go about their daily lives respecting the laws of the land and encourage others to do so as well. It is a minority of our citizens who make choices that negatively affect the sense of safety and security for the law abiding majority.

The strength of our community is shown when people come forward if they have witnessed a crime, have information that can lead to an arrest or assist the Police in their investigations. These courageous acts have proven successful in the past and ordinary citizens continue to have a role to play in ensuring that criminals are brought to justice.

In each of these recent cases, I echo the words of the investigating officers and likewise challenge our citizens who have information related to these crimes to come forward. If you know something, say something.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important that we as a community support the police in their investigations and the pro-active measures they must now employ to disrupt the rhythm of those who would engage in further violent crime. I am regularly briefed by the Commissioner and his senior command, and I have pledged the full support of the Government for their efforts both in investigating crime as well as the actions they must take to reduce tensions and provide reassurance to the affected communities.

Mr. Speaker, some of the commentary on this increase in serious crime has focused on the continuing economic challenges in our community.

As I have said before, the economic decline this government is required to reverse is perhaps the single most important task we have. While the successes we have seen and those we can forecast are beginning to reach families in need across the island our commitment remains to bringing relief to those who most need it in a sustainable and lasting way with the sense of urgency that the situation demands.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to being a country of laws, we as a people have always made good choices. When confronted with adversity we channel our frustrations into innovation, self-help; demanding the best of those who we have elected to serve us, and ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are taken care of first. So I think that we can all agree that resorting to violence whether out of anger and frustration or committing crimes by anyone against their fellow Bermudians in the name of meeting a desperate need is simply unacceptable.

At the core of our society is a foundation of mutual respect and understanding. These acts of violence strike at this core because we often know the men and women who engage in this criminal behaviour. In spite of our cosmopolitan outlook, we are still small enough for these acts of violence to resonate across communities and for the ill-judged actions of a few to affect so many; even their own relatives and friends.

Mr. Speaker, concurrent with this statement in this Honourable House, the Commissioner of Police is releasing crime statistics for 2015. The detailed breakdown of crimes and their percentage increases is something he is best qualified to deal with and explain. However, I can advise Honourable Members that crime did rise in 2015 when compared with 2014, but it is important to note that it is in contrast to 2014 which was a historically low point for criminal offences committed in Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker, one of the principal ways in which we are turning the tide of the gang lifestyle is through direct intervention, meeting people where they are.  In keeping with this commitment, Team Street Safe continues to provide the critical interventions required to arrest the growth and lure of the gang culture.

Honourable Members will recall that Team Street Safe [TSS] was launched in May 2013 as a new gang intervention programme modeled after the ‘Street Safe Boston” project.  The purpose of the programme is to intervene with known individuals involved in gun violence, and to reduce gang and gun violence in the community.

Team Street Safe is based on street level intervention with the structure of action research allowing the interactive inquiry process to drive the data-driven analysis to understand the underlying causes of the gang phenomena and local environmental factors.  TSS has adopted the strengths and lessons learned from the Street Safe Boston model and tailored them for the local needs.  The goal is to utilize the lessons learned to enable future predictions and recommendations for service provision and prevention priorities to reach the desired results of peaceful, healthy and safe neighborhoods for Bermuda.  The focus for TSS is twofold:

  1. Intervention Level –Identification, detect and interrupt violence to move proven risk individuals [PRI’s] towards a productive and healthy lifestyle.
  2. Action Research Level – Build the infrastructure on an action research focus to understand the intricacies of the local problem for prevention and management over time.

Mr. Speaker, Team Street Safe’s objectives are:

  1. To build relationships with gang members known as Proven Risk Individuals [PRI’s];
  2. To connect PRI’s to resources as a transition out of the gang life. These resources can include employment, a change in living arrangements, educational opportunities and family services.
  3. To negotiate and mediate between rival groups; and
  4. To develop social contracts to build productive citizens whilst disarming them from gang and gun violence.

Mr. Speaker, the programme targets proven risk individuals [known to be involved or actively involved] in gangs, crews or antisocial groups, or engaged in antisocial behaviours and within the age bracket of 18 to 35 years. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 19 years will be referred to the Mirrors program as a first step.

Mr. Speaker, Street Safe is just one of the initiatives promoted by this government as a means to intervene and provide an alternative structure for those at risk of offending and falling into the negative influences of the gang lifestyle.

Mr. Speaker, the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force [IGTF] and the Inter-Agency Gang Enforcement Team [IGET] continue to meet this Government’s promise to bring together all of those agencies that are engaged in the prevention, management and rehabilitation of at-risk members of our society.

The Inter-Agency Community Response Team [ICR] was enacted with the goals of:

  • Gaining an understanding of youth who are at-risk for gang membership by zone [East, West and Central] and prevailing gang culture;
  • Promoting community engagement focused on positively engaging Bermuda’s at-risk youth, and lessening the pull towards anti-social behavior; and
  • Ensuring that there are appropriate and effective resources in place to implement any relevant best practiced or innovative recommendations and priorities are met.

Mr. Speaker, the ICR has been engaged in those communities most directly impacted by gun violence and serious anti-social activity. Their strength has been realized in bringing together, churches, community groups, charities, and relevant government departments to unite in addressing the underlying needs of these proven risk individuals.

Mr. Speaker, Bermuda is on a path of renewal and I believe that the majority of Bermudians recognize that and are determined to see this country succeed, irrespective of political allegiances, race, employment status or economic challenges.

This Government will continue to use every available means to promote positive lifestyle choices to our young people whose formative years must be devoted to education, sports and strong family life. We will continue the effort to prove that the gang lifestyle is no life at all and that this society needs every Bermudian fully engaged and involved in making this country successful. Lastly, we will continue to support the Police as they lead the fight against crime and provide strong enforcement as the vital investigative arm of the criminal justice system. Their commitment to making Bermuda safer is strengthened by our active support of their efforts.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (14)

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  1. Premier Michael Dunkley Sir, as Leader of our Government and Island of Bermuda please introduce new changes in our criminal Laws. Violent crimes should be with no time off for so call “good behavior”. Unfortunately the list does goes on and on yet I do believe you catch my drift? People are fed-up!

  2. The most serious crimes,is not the guns on the street or the violence in our community,it is the legislator and the politicians who are hell bent in ruining this country for the majority.

    The Premiers words are fruitless to me and many within this country, because his sincerity in these matters and others are very tainted.

    No mother or family member likes to hear that a loved one has been gunned down, neither do they want to know that they have relatives being brought before the courts because of illegal drug charges, or being a menace to society,but the reality is this is all to common and remains so because of the fall out of the family , which has eroded on many fronts and for many reasons, along with the political challenges in this country that does not deal with the affordability of living in this country.

    This government has all the time and resources to produce what they want on behalf of the elite,but it has no real commitment to the main stream people who have the electoral power, From the America’s cup, to the Airport redevelopment,Immigration reform,to same sex partners being given the green light to anything and everything, No Mr Premier put on your brakes, you have ministers in your cabinet acting like drunken sailors, and you being a leader who is more available for photo up’s and funerals of people you don’t even know.

    I for one am not afraid to speak how I see it and stand flat footed on my convictions. You complained and barked about the Hon Dr.Ewart Brown when he was Premier and you even had a few choice names for him, but it is amazing that a man in whom I thought was for the people as Mr. Michael Dunkley, has become the most hopeless Premier on record that I have ever seen in my years of being an adult.

    Never have we seen you run your office as the premier as one who can clearly be seen and felt as if he was in control of the affairs under his tenure, but it seems like all of your ministers do as they wish and we don’t hear a peak out of you, they are running this country like wild O’x's and I don’t mean that in a kind way, so pick the bones out of it.

    my blog is lengthy because I am a Bermudian who is disgraced to even say that this is the country I live in or have loved for the majority of my life, foreigners seem to have more rights in this country then the born Bermudian and this does not include the rubber stamp, paper Bermudians.
    Lastly I am only on of countless Bermudians both black and white who are sick of your leadership, step down and let someone else with greater skills in your party do the job, and maybe we can gt things turned around.

    • San George says:

      Spot on DPS! Can’t find a job – farm! That from the leader of Bermuda. We are blessed beyond measure. We have to show that we care for our less fortunate. We have to nurture and make room for change and embrace opportunities. A morsel of bread and a corner to sleep, a minute smile and hour weep is not going to cut it.

      Quo Fata Ferunt

    • .am says:

      You wrote a comment, not a blog. It’s not rocket science.

  3. serengeti says:

    I would like it if the courts had the death penalty available.

    • And what happpens to those who are wrongly accused ?

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Not going to happen. Waste of time bringing the subject up as much as so many would like it to be in the penalty toolbox.

  4. NO MORE WAR says:

    This press release by the Premier makes no sense at all. In that he has acknowledged the rise in serious crime but will continue to cut the police budget. I would be afraid to meet with the Commissioner knowing that I am partly responsible for hindering the police from more effective type policing. This Preimier also has lost the confidence of the rank of file of the police force and has caused there to be less officers on the ground. How is the police supposed to effectively police when they only have 3 units available to deal with serious crime?

    • Laughable says:

      I have to agree. Actually the Commissioner and the Premier are on the same page. How can you get rid of about 20 Police Officers with more to go later this year and then say you are trying to deal with uprise in crime?

    • Rockfish#1 says:

      Let’s no forget something.
      The size of the BPS is of course important, but so is managing and deploying them properly.
      This applies to ALL ranks!

  5. Rockfish#1 says:

    Correction** Let us not forget something.

  6. mmm says:

    The people of these country, will have more confidence in the leaders of this country, if they will roll up their sleeves and meet with the people in the community on a regular basis. Show the cost of running this country, and invite the public to comment. One of the hardest things to do is to come down to the common people, and implement changes that will reduce cost s and have a more satisfied people.

  7. think about it says:

    Don’t be fooled people, the COP and the Premier are on the same page, well thats what the Premier thinks. The COP is getting rid of contract workers to bring the numbers down so that a new recruitment drive can take place for another local course to run. the numbers will come back up and will improve numbers in the Police Service and secondly provide jobs for us Bermudians. nothing wrong with that. A contract is a contract. Plus those contract workers were beginning to get too bold. Challenging wrong decisions and having opinions contrary to the norm.

    win win for all!!

    also the issue now with the Police is that it has been working on auto-pilot for some time. lots of great public speakers with administrative skills. Using the initiatives of some to justify a strategy is not the same as putting a strategy in motion. investigative journalists, ask the rank and file.

    I challenge them to say the last time a senior officer(above the rank of Chief Inspector) has provided skilled directing(not budget or resources) in any major investigation. I am referring to actual investigations in a murder or a serious crime, where any senior level officer can provide investigative direction. there is only one on paper who does not know the last time he did that. in the sniper management of a Police Service, there needs to be a balanced mix, not a bunch of entitled folks.

    Right now, a CEO of a Private company can come in and do just as much a good job or even a better job than the ones now. at least they would come in with some modern Human Resource management strategies.

    Senator Baron, do the right thing and tell the Premier the truth, if you haven’t already!!
    also looking forward to the day when the COP will salute you as per protocol.

    Oh Governor, where is that surprise Audit of the Police Service? the time is right?

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