More to be done, says anti-violence campaigner

  • Speaking out: Desmond Crockwell has said that the recent crime statistics were “extremely positive”(Photograph by Blaire Simmons).

    Speaking out: Desmond Crockwell has said that the recent crime statistics were “extremely positive”(Photograph by Blaire Simmons).

A “huge amount of work” will need to be done to reduce gang crime in Bermuda, an anti-violence campaigner claimed yesterday.

Desmond Crockwell said: “We have to discourage the glorifying of the lifestyle, from an early age.

“More can be done on campaigning in the schools.

“Many of the adults today who participate in the antisocial behaviour and glorify the lifestyle were probably identified as “at-risk” or troubled youth in school — so more can be done with them at an early age, when they are first observed.”

Mr Crockwell, the chief editor of anti-violence magazine Visionz, said that parents must also lead by example.

He added: “It will have an impact on how their child will view life — and a child eventually becomes an adult.”

Mr Crockwell was speaking after Wayne Caines, the national security minister, announced in the House of Assembly that crime in Bermuda was down.

Mr Caines told MPs that firearms offences were down 57 per cent this year compared to three years ago.

He added that robberies and antisocial behaviour figures had also dropped.

Mr Crockwell said that the statistics were “extremely positive and encouraging” and that credit was due to everyone who had “the courage to step up and play a part”.

He added that relationship building by the Government and the Bermuda Police Service had played a “big part of the progress”.

Mr Crockwell said that Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley, who was sworn in August 2018, had brought “new ideas and initiatives” to the service.

He added that Pastor Leroy Bean, Bermuda’s gang violence reduction co-ordinator, had also been “very effective at what he does”.

Mr Crockwell said: “I think there are a lot of grassroots organisations, programmes, initiatives and people who have committed themselves to being a part of the solution and the reduction in the statistics reflect that.”

He added that special thanks was owed to young men who had turned their lives around and the increased number of men who had made “a committed effort” to help youngsters keep on the straight and narrow.

Mr Crockwell said: “There are a lot of silent heroes among us.”

He added that the work of island organisations, businesses, foundations and donors also deserved credit.

He explained: “Without them a lot of us would not be able to be out here hitting the pavement in our own significant way.

“Much respect to them.”

Mr Crockwell said work to reduce gang violence never stopped.

He added: “Many programmes and organisations constantly develop professionally, collaborate and share ideas to change their approach.

“It is, and has always been, a never-ending commitment.”

Gina Spence, a community activist, said youth programmes run by Mr Caines and Mr Bean had played a major part in the drop in crime.

She added that anti-violence campaigners such as Mr Crockwell who “stay in the trenches” had also played a vital role.

Ms Spence said: “I know that Mr Crockwell has worked tirelessly with town hall meetings, presentations and meeting with guys in prison.

“He’s been, what I would say, a strong voice.”

Ms Spence emphasised that the dip in crime rates was down to collaboration.

She said: “I think it is a village that continues to do the work.”

Ms Spence added that anti- violence efforts should be focused on counselling services for children who had lost family members to gun violence.

She explained that children exposed to the trauma of the loss of family to violence could grow up serious problems themselves.

Ms Spence said: “So unless you give children tools to address these emotions and their pain then they can become these adults.”

Ms Spence said that better rehabilitation services should be available at Westgate prison to help inmates change their ways.

She added: “Many prisons have programmes specifically for gang members that gives them new tools, new resources and new opportunities to change behaviours.

“Education is absolutely key. Every prisoner should leave Westgate with some form of certification, training or education.”

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Published Dec 14, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 13, 2019 at 11:40 pm)

More to be done, says anti-violence campaigner

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