Cash seized from drug criminals should go towards rehabilitating addicts, says MP Perinchief – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Cash seized from drug criminals should go towards rehabilitating addicts, says MP Perinchief

Money police seize from drug criminals should be ploughed straight back into rehabilitating addicts, Government MP Wayne Perinchief said yesterday.

Mr Perinchief told the House of Assembly he was concerned those funds were instead being directed towards police investigative work, which on its own would not solve Bermuda's drugs problem.

Speaking during the Budget debate on National Drug Control his former Ministry the one-time Police Assistant Commissioner also warned of the effects of funding cuts to charities which tackle social problems.

“Unfortunately, I believe, and what I have seen right now in Bermuda, we are severely challenged with our strategy of getting people rehabilitated by the fact that many of our treatment programmes are mostly driven by charitable organisations,” said Mr Perinchief.

“Most of them are actually staffed by charitable groups but funded by grants provided by Government. Certainly by attrition there will be a reduction in the ability of this Government to rehabilitate people if the funds are not there.

“It's a real fear. What I can suggest is that the drugs assets forfeiture money that's regularly garnered in this Country be filtered directly to drugs programmes that are supporting those that need help and treatment.

“I did see it was going to the investigative side of the programme. That could be problematic. The police do get a budget for investigations, but I do feel that the money that would go directly to rehabilitative treatment and dealing with the addicted persons should not be side-tracked into other areas.”

Former Auditor General Larry Dennis' claim that NDC staff used taxpayers' cash inappropriately including one who spent it at Victoria's Secret also came up during the debate.

Shadow Justice Minister Trevor Moniz said he believed police were called in after Mr Dennis reported $20 million had been spent with no accountability.

“But we haven't seen anything come out of that. We need to know from this Department that it's being transformed from top to bottom,” he said.

“There needs to be more openness with members of the public in that regard to gain the confidence of the public in that Department.”

Mr Perinchief said some of the problems could have stemmed from the NDC switching from a quango to a Government body.

“Of course it would throw up some glaring differences on how money was handled,” he said.

“If anyone suspects or lingers in their hearts some clandestine thoughts people are misappropriating funds in the National Drug Control, let me dispel that straight away.

“The staff have changed dramatically. It's not fair to continually paint the organisation with some brush it was painted with before.”

United Bermuda Party MP John Barritt said Government had treated the NDC like an ugly stepsister, when it should have been treated like Cinderella, given the Island's drugs problems.

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Published March 11, 2011 at 9:00 am (Updated March 11, 2011 at 8:59 am)

Cash seized from drug criminals should go towards rehabilitating addicts, says MP Perinchief

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