Laws passed to fight violent crime
- The Parental Responsibility Act 2010: Allows the courts to impose antisocial behaviour orders on young troublemakers, restricting them from associating with certain friends or entering certain buildings. Also allows for the issuing of parenting orders, child safety orders and child curfews, with civil liability where orders are breached.
- The Firearms Amendment Act 2010: Gives police the power to apply for a warrant of detention to hold those arrested for firearms and ammunition offences for longer periods. Previously, suspects could only be held for 72 hours. Now police can ask for an extra 14 days and make a second application for a further 14-day extension in order to gather evidence or obtain forensic results.
- Justice Protection Act 2010: Aims to make witnesses less afraid of giving evidence in serious court cases by sending them overseas before, during and sometimes after a trial. Allows for new identities to be given to witnesses facing an identified threat.
- The Criminal Code Amendment Act 2010: Gives police powers to confiscate “hoodies” and other items of clothing, disperse groups hanging out and conduct longer stop and searches.
- The Bail Amendment Act 2011: Gives police the power to arrest people they suspect are going to breach bail.
- The Firearms Amendment Act 2011: Allows those arrested on suspicion of firearms offences to be held in prison to ease overcrowding in police cells. Suspects can now be held in Westgate, the Co-Ed Facility, or the Prison Farm before they are charged.
- Proceeds of Crime Amendment Act 2011: Allows criminals such as drug dealers, gun traffickers and loan sharks to be stripped of ill-gotten cash found by the police. Previously, prosecutors could only seek to confiscate assets once a defendant was convicted of a criminal offence. The amendment allows civil action against alleged crooks.
Proposed changes to the law and other initiatives
- Former National Security Minister David Burch launched a multi-agency Anti-Gang Task Force in 2010, which has continued under new Minister Wayne Perinchief. The group is soon expected to publish a report on how American anti-gang models could be copied in Bermuda.
- Further amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Act 1997 are on the way. These will allow for the civil forfeiture of ill-gotten gains other than cash, such as cars, boats and jewellery.
- An anti-gang initiative is being piloted in Bermuda’s prisons. Attorney General Michael Scott announced the scheme in March, when he said its aim was to “assist inmates in breaking connections with gang affiliations and to reintegrate successfully into the community upon their release”.
- Mr Perinchief said in May that funding would be provided to allow those arrested for firearms offences to be electronically tagged. The ability to use the tags has been in place since the Bail Act 2005 was passed but has so far not been used. The same Act allows police to impose curfews and other restrictions on a suspect who has not been charged with an offence. The Minister wants tagging, curfews and other restrictions for those on parole and for anyone suspected of a violent or antisocial lifestyle.