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Minister pledges to ‘raise the game’ on fighting gang violence

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Tackling crime: The Junior Minister and Minister of National Security, Jonathan Smith and Wayne Perinchief, speak to the media on crime-busting initiatives at Alaska Hall, the Progressive Labour Party’s headquarters.

National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief has defended his Ministry’s record on fighting gang violence.But Government will implement a National Crime Reduction Plan which will “raise the game” on fighting crime even further, the media was told yesterday.At Alaska Hall Mr Perinchief said that his Government had been “proactive” in fighting gang crime. An “easy guide” on community action and gang prevention had been widely distributed and well received, and legislation to seize proceeds of crime had been passed.“Cash and other hard assets can, and are, being seized. We are determined that crime will not pay,” he said.But he added: “To simply think we can arrest our way out of this problem is just ridiculous. Even with enforcement we must have an eye to the social dysfunction that has created these issues.“For every family that faces the death of a young man to gun violence, there are tens of others who worry about a similar fate.”The Minister added that 30 people had been trained through Operation StreetSafe.“A comprehensive strategy for gang mediation has been prepared and is on the cusp of full implementation.“This is no quick fix and this Government is in this fight for the long haul.”He reiterated Government’s promise to review the Island’s security services. “We will move toward the elimination of conscription and the development of a full time Regiment with a focus on a maritime role and joint operations with other agencies,” he said.“We will ensure that the police have the flexibility to perform core functions of policing first by reducing any demands for them to do other duties that may detract from guns, gangs, drugs and violence. We can be more efficient and targeted in our approach to public safety and this Government will lead the way to achieving this in 2013 and beyond.”Mr Perinchief continued: “By any measure, this Government has delivered on its promises and mandate to the people of Bermuda.“We have never wavered in our commitment to making Bermuda safer and that commitment has been matched by action.“Our record is one of promises made and promises delivered.”Mr Perinchief was accompanied by Jonathan Smith, the junior Minister for National Security.“Shooting incidents have gone down since the highs experienced in 2009/2010, shootings resulting in deaths and injuries have also gone down,” Senator Smith said.Police recovery of arms and ammunition had increased, as had arrests and convictions of priority offenders.“One of the most rewarding outcomes has been the mobilisation of the community which exists to this day.”But Senator Smith said that Government also recognised that a “considerable amount of work” remains to be done.“But we will not rest until the last firearm is received, the last bullet is recovered and the last killer is brought to justice and when the gang lifestyle is neutralised.”A new cross Ministry National Crime Reduction Plan, aimed at reducing youth offending and delinquency, will deal with the “deeply rooted changes that are necessary,” said Sen Smith.“We will be supportive of new first-of-a-kind performance based incentives which will encourage the highest level of crime prevention and crime reduction work in the work that all of these agencies do — all in a bid to reduce the next generation of crime and gang crime.”Performance of crime reduction programmes will be measured in terms of “very specific outcomes” and results.