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Businesses urged to be first line of defence

Voicing concerns: supermarket owner Frank Arnold says the police are “failing to enforce the law” against those “loitering” on his property in the Warren Simmons Community Field area (File photograph)

The Bermuda Police Service have issued a statement encouraging businesses to “design crime out” of their premises to help deter illegal trespassing.

The statement came after police were accused of not adequately responding to such activity on a Somerset property.

The police responded to complaints made by supermarket owner Frank Arnold, who claimed the force was “failing to enforce the law” against those “loitering” on his property in the Warren Simmons Community Field area.

Mr Arnold said the problem had persisted for some 30 years and despite all his efforts the situation remains the same. He has now hired a security firm “at large expense” to help deal with the problem.

The Royal Gazette ran a story last month highlighting Mr Arnold’s concerns that groups were loitering and allegedly soliciting drugs with little or no police response.

After questions from this newspaper, the BPS eventually came forward with the following response: “The Somerset area of the Warren Simmons Community Field has a longstanding history of attracting people to congregate and socialise near by.

“The antisocial element of those groups, unfortunately, adversely impacts the community and area businesses.

“In this way, the area is sadly not the only one across Bermuda that experiences this problem. The BPS is aware of the perennial issues, particularly in neighbourhoods where alcohol is sold for off-licence consumption, and over the years we have taken enforcement action where it is justified and lawful to do so.

“We know that alcohol and antisocial behaviour are inextricably linked in our community, and in circumstances where there are no lawful powers for the police to use, we encourage that businesses take an environmental approach to designing crime out from the area.

“By fostering healthy spaces surrounding licensed premises, incidents of roadside consumption of alcohol are likely to reduce and antisocial behaviour is less likely to occur. We also recommended the service of registered letters to ban the most prolific offenders from attending the area’s businesses and causing a nuisance in the area.”

Mr Arnold said he was not happy with the response, claiming “the police are doing nothing to enforce the law”.

He said: “If you want to stop someone for trespassing on your property, a policeman cannot serve [notice]. It has to be served by a process server or a registered letter must be sent.

“I have done this for years. Part of the problem is that we can’t get proper information from the police of who they are and where to send it. From time to time they have helped — it depends on the officer. We never have confirmation from the Post Office whether they received it. We don’t hear back from the people so we are assuming it is served.

“I have to say I want a summons because they were on my property, I send them a registered letter I want them arrested and I want to take them to court for trespassing on my property. The police never follow through, they don’t do the paperwork to serve the summons for trespassing. I have asked many times.”

Mr Arnold, who said he has not been contacted by police in response to the comments he made in this newspaper on October 21, now says that his new security firm, Security Associates, made a recent report in relation to a police visit.

He added: “Two officers drive up and the quote from the security firm was: ‘the police officers said they wondered why Arnold’s was calling so much and that they couldn’t stop people from hanging in the bus shelter and they left the premises.’

“There were numerous people loitering in the bus shelter. We had called the police, asked them to do their job and remove them for loitering on public property.

“As they left there was a smell of weed coming from the area and they refused to do anything — they didn’t talk to them, get out of the car or search anybody, they don’t do anything and when we call them they say why are you calling us?”

The BPS did not make reference to specific incidents in its response to questions from this newspaper, but they did add: “Community Action Teams are available at each of the island’s police stations to provide free crime-prevention advice.

“The police will continue to work with neighbourhood residents and business owners to tackle antisocial behaviour through a combination of enforcement and prevention measures.”