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Public Safety Minister announces cash-for-guns scheme

Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley today announced a new gun bounty initiative, that will offer cash rewards to get firearms off Bermuda’s streets.

He would not state exactly how much informants would be paid, only that the pay outs would be significant.

The initiative, done in partnership with Crime Stoppers Bermuda, will be implemented in three phases “over a sustained period starting this month”.

Phase one will include a public education campaign stressing the confidentiality of Crime Stoppers and the “important role” it plays here.

The second phase begins next month.

Said Mr Dunkley: “Starting in May, through this partnership anonymous tips will be encouraged as a means to find criminals and their guns. We must deploy every resource to rid our Island of firearms, and through this confidential method and the provision of a reward for valuable information, we expect to achieve some success.

“To receive any reward, the information must lead to the recovery of a firearm or the arrest and prosecution of an offender. Firearms are illegal in Bermuda and the law will continue to deal harshly with those who handle or use them.”

Phase three will see an illegal weapons amnesty to encourage the public to hand illegal weapons over to the police.

According to Mr Dunkley, “the exact number of guns on our streets” is not known.

“We do know from court trials and forensic evidence that guns are passed around and have been used to commit several different murders and shooting injuries,” he said.

“Imagine the impact if we take just one gun off the street, how many potential tragedies we might prevent in the future. Bermuda has a zero-tolerance for illegal firearms and that policy remains unchanged.”

The amount of the reward will be determined “based on the information for the gun that’s given in”, Mr Dunkley he said.

That decision will be made by the police, in conjunction with Crime Stoppers.

“I would say that in these tough times every dollar is a good dollar and I would ask people to come forward and give us that information,” he said.

Asked whether the award would be sufficient to buy groceries for a month or six months, the Minister replied: “I’m sure you would be able to do all of that depending on the type of gun that’s been given at the time.

“It’s difficult for us to put an exact dollar amount on a gun for the simple fact is that guns will come in various sizes and makes and the importance of a gun will be determined at that time. And so I think it would be a significant amount of cash.

“Now obviously the significance of money varies with everybody, but I’m not going to get into numbers because then I’m setting the bounty that the people who are going to make the determination have to go by and I don’t want to do that as a Minister.

“I want to allow them the free scope to do their job properly and make sure it's a success.”

Also announced today were two new appointments to the Crime Stoppers board. Former police officer Raphael Simons and Malika Musson have been appointed as chairman and deputy chair respectively.

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Published April 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm (Updated April 12, 2013 at 2:19 pm)

Public Safety Minister announces cash-for-guns scheme

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