OT’s Ministerial Council given update on Island’s gang fight
Government highlighted its three-pronged strategy to deal with gang activity during a meeting with the Overseas Territories Joint Ministerial Council in London.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Kim Wilson took part in the event, along with Premiers, Chief Ministers and other elected officials from Britains Overseas Territories.
In a paper prepared in advance of the meeting, Government said that while Bermuda has experienced a rise in gang-related violence, crime rates overall are dropping.
The paper says: “Police intelligence suggests that only a small portion of the population is involved in illegal gang activity.
“However there is no solace in knowing that the negative and destabilising social and economic impact of illegal gang activity is disproportionate to the numbers involved.”
It states that Bermuda has taken a three pronged approach to remedying the gang problem, focusing on prevention, intervention and enforcement.
Mirrors and Coaching for Success were both cited as key aspects of preventing gang activity, along with sports programmes.
The paper notes investments in both the Aquatics Centre and a FIFA regulation-size football training pitch, and states that plans are underway to create a national walk of fame for the Island’s sports heroes.
Regarding intervention, the paper states that the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force has recommended required developmental screening for children aged 24 to 36 months to help identify children who need intervention, and mandatory life skills courses for financial assistance clients.
It also notes the recent ‘Respect’ campaign in the media, created by the Ministry of National Security.
And on the enforcement front, the paper lists various legislative efforts including the introduction of electronic monitoring devices, creating harsher penalties for firearms offences and improved witness protection.
The paper said the legislative efforts have made a positive impact, noting the fall in overall crime in Bermuda and improved satisfaction with the Police Service.
It concluded: “The lessons learned seem to be that the legislative enhancements and all other methods of prevention and intervention against illegal gangs and organised crime are only effective when both public authorities and citizens comply consistently with the law and work together with integrity and thoroughness for a safer community.”