Log In

Reset Password

‘Gun alley’ residents fed up of living in fear

First Prev 1 2 Next Last
Acting Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell informs the island that starting from this Thursday May 31 police officers will begin disperse groups in the areas of Cambridge Road and Somerset Road areas. People who refuse to disperse will be given the maximum penalty of $2,500 or 3 months in prison. (Photo by Akil Simmons) May 29, 2012

“This is the first time we’re going to be exercising these powers under Section 110 of the Criminal Code Amendment Act,” Acting Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell said, adding: “Once we launch this and assess its impact, we’ll look to see what other areas it can be used.”If drug dealers and loiterers move elsewhere, police will follow, he warned. And if they return after the two-week period of authorisation, police will simply renew it.“We will follow where they go,” he said.Residents of Cambridge Road and Somerset Road are fed up with living in “daily fear”, Acting Chf Insp Cardwell said.The law, effective from 8am tomorrow, means police will order men congregating in the area to move on and keep away for two weeks.“Any person who refuses to disperse or who returns having been previously told to disperse is liable to be arrested and placed before the next sitting of Magistrates’ Court,” he added.The maximum penalty is a $2,500 fine with three months’ imprisonment.Asked if he feared reprisals for the get-tough move, Philip Barnett of the Cambridge Road Community Group said: “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t fearful at times driving through the area.”However, he added: “Good men can’t stand aside. We are the majority, and we are not silent any more.”With Cambridge Road dubbed “gun alley” and guest house visitors subject to intimidation and offensive language from men who congregate in the area, Acting Chf Insp Cardwell said residents had decided “enough is enough”.“The objective is to make it known to these guys that they are not wanted in this neighbourhood,” he said.Sandys Parish Council chair Dawn Simmons acknowledged that many young men who loiter in the area are jobless, with their movements constrained because of gang affiliations.“They are our relatives, our friends, and people we even went to school with,” Ms Simmons said, adding that the Council is “meeting regularly with stakeholders” in the hope of assisting the unemployed.National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief has “thrown his weight” behind the initiative, and area MP Michael Scott has attended meetings in the parish as the crackdown was planned, she said. The Director of Public Prosecutions and Attorney General’s Chambers have also assisted.Added Acting Chf Insp Cardwell: “We have young men that can’t leave Somerset, so we can’t encourage them to go to town and get on the Hustle Truck. One possibility were looking at is creating a Hustle Truck for Somerset.”Mr Barnett added that the West End, with Bermuda’s largest port, offers good employment opportunities, which would prosper if the antisocial presence were removed.“We want the best possible environment for those businesses to flourish so that we can take care of these individuals,” he said.In a candidly worded statement, police recognised that the area has “for some time now presented challenges”.“The areas have for a long time been a meeting place for men who do not live in the area,” Acting Chf Insp Cardwell said. “Some of these men are associated with the MOB gang that everyone in Somerset has heard of.”Residents have told police they live with “daily intimidation caused by these men”, the Western Area Police Commander continued.“These men sit at the entrance to Cambridge Road and block the road or delay the free passage of the residents when they are returning to their homes. The men are seen to sell and use illicit drugs which is supported by the drug seizures and drug possession arrests that have occurred in the area.“The men use offensive language towards the area residents and their behaviour under the influence of drug and alcohol causes intimidation. I have reports that visitors to our Island, who are staying at guest accommodations and must travel along Cambridge Road, have reported that they have experienced similar offensive behaviour that does not shine a good light on Bermuda generally.“Unfortunately, despite the increased law enforcement of the area, this has not reduced the level of fear and intimidation suffered by the residents. When the police leave, these men return to their appalling conduct that causes alarm and distress. Everyone will appreciate that this is unacceptable.”The area covered by the Section 110 patrols will be published in newspapers, Acting Chf Insp Cardwell said. It will cover Somerset Road between Broome Street and Cambridge Road, as well as Cambridge Road and “every public place contiguous to these roads”.The powers are in effect until midnight on June 13 but can be extended to one month — and will be repeated if offenders return to the area.Added Acting Chf Insp Cardwell: “We’re very conscious of this, that we could simply just be pushing them on to the next stop. And then we’ll police that spot.”

(Photo by Akil Simmons)Acting Chief Inspector Robert Cardwell informs the island that starting from tomorrow police officers will begin dispersing groups in the areas of Cambridge Road and Somerset Road areas. People who refuse to disperse will be given the maximum penalty of $2,500 or three months in prison.
<B>How the law works</B>

The Criminal Code Amendment Act 2010s Section 110A grants police the power to disperse groups — and arrest individuals who fail to comply.

It can be exercised when an officer “not below the rank of inspector” has reasonable grounds to suspect that antisocial behaviour is a “significant and persistent problem” in an area.

The officer can grant authorisation to other officers for a two-week period.

The rule applies to groups of two or more in public places where harassment, alarm, intimidation or distress has been caused to members of the public.

If a superior officer believes that offences are likely to continue, the period of authorisation can be extended to one month. It can also be reduced.

Officers are permitted to direct groups to disperse either immediately or within a specified time. Individuals who do not reside in the area can be ordered to keep away for a period not exceeding two weeks from the date of direction.

A person who refuses to comply with a direction given to him by a police officer under section 110A, or who resists removal, is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $2,500 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both such fine and imprisonment.

Under section 110B, authorisation must be given in writing, with an explanation of the area covered and the ground for issuing it.

Police are also required to publicise the authorisation, either in a newspaper or by a posted notice in the area affected.

Useful website: www.bermudalaws.bm, www.parliament.bm.