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Scott: Gun bounty drive requires cash and anonymity

Shadow Minister of Public Safety Michael Scott has mixed views on the prospects of success for upcoming gun bounty drive by CrimeStoppers Bermuda.

While hopeful the programme will be successful, Mr Scott said guaranteed anonymity and the money factor will be the key for potential tipsters.

If the main objective is to get guns off the streets he said the appeal for information should not be tied to criminal convictions for a monetary reward.

As a lawyer, he said that implies that anyone who gives information that leads to an arrest and conviction may think that requires them to testify in court. And while there are some who may be willing to do that he believes the majority will not.

In a statement released yesterday, Mr Scott said the programme could be successful if it is “made to operate like a standard bounty”.

“Anything less and the public may not respond or provide information to the police. Furthermore the programme will be fruitless from the start if the process does not involve persons remaining anonymous,” said Mr Scott.

“Linking the receipt of the bounty to the requirement that the information must lead to an arrest and prosecution of the offender, as the Minister is quoted as saying suggests strongly that the informant will have to give evidence.

“It is also unclear why the Minister is being tentative about the amount of money being posted as the bounty — both steps put the programme at risk. Anonymity and the money are the two key factors to secure public participation,” he said.

The Minister, Michael Dunkley, has stated that amount of money paid out will be decided by CrimeStoppers Bermuda (CSB). He issued a statement that said: “It is important to note that the CSB Reward committee determines the financial rewards for information given. The Committee has a best practice information scale that takes into account forensic and other information provided by the Bermuda Police Service. Outside of the CSB Committee, no one is aware of the reward process.”

But Mr Scott maintained that on the surface his reservations about the programme remain the same. “I can see how a reward would be an incentive if it’s for the discovery of a gun but I don’t see people being willing to come to court to testify to help get convictions.

“This programme will be an utter failure if the condition of the reward is absent of anonymity or to give evidence against someone for a firearm. That will destroy any prospect of anyone coming forward and I think its incumbent upon the Minister to make that clear.”

And he was adamant that the amount of cash to be paid out is a key factor, without knowing the amount he asked why people would even consider it because of the risks.

As it stands now he said: “The implication is that informants will have to testify, the Minister would not say how much money will be paid and the incentivising of the programme is directly linked to the attractiveness of the bounty.

“The primary good that can come out of the Gun Buy Back Programme is the ability to get guns off the street. As the Minister declared in his statement, getting one gun turned in that has been used in several murders is positive news. We in the PLP agree.

“However, to encourage effective participation, there must be a guarantee that any informants’ identities must be protected and that the bounty amounts must be published.”

Shadow Public Safety Minister Michael Scott

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Published April 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 17, 2013 at 12:34 am)

Scott: Gun bounty drive requires cash and anonymity

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