Governor: No plans to send Island’s prisoners to the UK
Governor George Fergusson has criticised a story in a UK newspaper, which claimed the Island is looking to ship dangerous criminals to the UK.
The article, which appeared in Sunday's edition of The Telegraph, said the Island has faced an upswing of gang violence in recent years and is investigating the possibility of sending the UK “murderers, rapists and drug-dealing gangsters”, who as British passport holders could stay in the UK once their time is served.
Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said in an interview recently that discussions were underway with Government House about possibly sending Bermudian prisoners to the UK, but a spokesman for the UK's Ministry of Justice, which oversees prisons in England and Wales, told The Telegraph they were unaware of any discussions with Bermuda.
Mr Fergusson told The Royal Gazette yesterday: “The report in The Telegraph was at best misleading.
“The position is that there has long been an arrangement for transfers under 19th century legislation for ‘colonial prisoners', but it has not been used for many years.
“There are conceivable circumstances in which it might, but there are high thresholds to get over in terms of rights.”
In an open letter to the newspaper, Mr Fergusson wrote that the story was wrong about several elements.
“It claims that Bermuda can no longer cope with its prisoners, ‘is seeking to transfer its most dangerous' prisoners to Britain and paints a picture of rising crime on the Island,” he wrote. “Transfer powers have long existed under the Colonial Prisoners Removal Act 1884.
“There are now high thresholds for their use and Bermuda has not used the Act for many years, nor are any cases under discussion now.
“A prisoner might present special challenges who could be better accommodated in a larger prison system with specialist facilities, but Bermuda's prisons can cope with their current inmates.
“They are operating below full capacity — thanks partly to a steady drop in crime rates, now the lowest since 2000.
“There has been a problem of gang violence, by the normally very peaceful standards of Bermuda. But the Police Commissioner has recently reported that this is at its lowest level for four years.”
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Safety said they were aware of the report, but no further comment was made as of press time last night.