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Police watchdog proposals to be submitted this year

Renee Ming, the national security minister (File photograph)

Research on the creation of a “culturally acceptable” police watchdog is to be handed to the Government this year, the national security minister has announced.

Renée Ming said a “Bermuda-centred” body to scrutinise the police, promised in 2020, would be based on research from other countries.

She added: “We hope to have that submitted for this year, probably the second part of the year – it should be something culturally acceptable to Bermuda.”

Ms Ming said the Government had examined how similar bodies were set up in the Caribbean as well as in the UK, Canada, Ireland and Singapore.

She added: “It’s the public purse that funds the Bermuda Police Service and the authority will allow the public to provide feedback on what they see as priorities.”

Ms Ming said: “The Government does not hold operational responsibility for the BPS, but that does not stop people from submitting feedback.

“The Governor will ultimately have the say, in accordance with our Constitution.”

Ms Ming said budgets had been prepared for the police and the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service as part of the 2022-23 financial blueprint, scheduled to be delivered on February 25.

She added: “It’s been submitted and we are looking forward to a favourable response.”

Ms Ming said that she had “heard the concerns” from the fire service about staffing levels and lack of equipment.

She added: “I’m unable to go into specifics, but we believe the budget we have submitted is fair.”

Ms Ming said much of the ministry’s work on violent crime, including the Gang Reduction Task Force, was carried out off the radar.

Police highlighted internal strife in the Parkside gang as a major factor in an increase in gun violence after a double murder at the Robin Hood pub and restaurant on Richmond Road, Pembroke last year.

Ms Ming said: “We’d all agree that in the community tensions are high in this area, where there has been activity as a result of things happening among various people.”

She said added that the police and the task force were working “feverishly” - officers on investigations and the GRTF on mediation.

Ms Ming agreed it was a “fair assessment” that a younger element was behind the spate of gun violence in recent months.

But she said that financial hardship, which had worsened under the pandemic, fuelled the problem.

Ms Ming added: “That’s why economic recovery is so important.

“One thing I’ve said in many interviews and statements is it’s not just a government issue. This is us as a country.”

She said the Government was examining ways to boost parenting skills in at-risk families.

Ms Ming added that promised legislation would be brought to the House of Assembly this year to tackle the increasing threat of cybercrime.

She said that another Throne Speech pledge - modernisation of the island’s network of roadside CCTV security cameras - was also “something we are working on for this current year”.

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Published February 07, 2022 at 8:02 am (Updated February 07, 2022 at 8:02 am)

Police watchdog proposals to be submitted this year

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