Baron offers to help new minister
Jeff Baron, the former national security minister, has pledged to support his successor in any way possible to tackle the issue of gangs and violent crime in Bermuda.
Mr Baron said the problem “transcended politics” and added that if asked, he would be happy to share relationships and experience from his time as minister with new Progressive Labour Party minister Wayne Caines.
Mr Baron was speaking after a spate of violent knife crime resulted in death and injury, and just days after a young footballer was found guilty of fatally stabbing a man outside a Hamilton club.
Mr Baron, now the One Bermuda Alliance’s Shadow Minister of National Security, said the spike in knife crime was symptomatic of the trend of young men arming themselves with blades as a matter of course.
He added: “Over recent years many men have been convicted of handling and possessing firearms and using them to shoot, injure and kill individuals — that in turn has disrupted these networks and firearms have been seized.
“One of the unintended consequences of this is tactical displacement. The more successful the disruption by intelligence-led law enforcement is on firearms, the more offenders will revert to other weapons and ways of offending.
“In this case, it’s a return of edged-weapons being used and carried, particularly when group tensions are escalated.”
Mr Baron said: “We are in a time of heightened tensions right now and this results in more young men carrying knives, and on many occasions this will be done for protection purposes.
“There is also another factor to consider — those involved in these criminal networks now are more forensically aware of things like gunshot residue and police tactics.
“In response to this, they have gone back to older tools of the trade such as knives and edged instruments.
“They have to evolve to survive, but it remains about respect and vendetta for those in these gangs.”
Mr Baron said that he hoped the new PLP administration would continue with the programmes established under the OBA, including StreetSafe and Ceasefire.
He added that he also hoped the new Bermuda Government would continue efforts in the public school system to steer young men away from violent crime and gangs. Mr Baron said: “The legislation is there and the penalties are there to tackle knife crime. We have to continue with our focused deterrence strategy.
“These are surgical, intelligence-led strikes similar to the one we saw recently where arrests were made and a firearm was seized.
“It is equally an active community response, offering honourable and meaningful exits from this lifestyle.”
And he added: “Most importantly, the focus must remain on this extremely small population that is driving the violence we have seen recently.
“But equally the community itself holds a huge amount of power to disrupt these networks and set the standards.”
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