Anti-gang strategy to be unveiled today
Aggressive police tactics, increased penalties for gang-related crimes, and mediation between warring gangs are key if Bermuda is to win the peace and put an end to the gang lifestyle, according to National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief.
Other measures include a school intervention initiative for the early identification of gang signals, effective case management for at-risk individuals and partnering with local sports clubs.
Minister Perinchief plans to outline a six point anti-gang strategy in an address to the House of Assembly today.
The speech, which has been provided to
The Royal Gazette, will update the country on the work of the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force and point the way forward.
“We must continue to support the Police’s aggressive, targeted prevention and enforcement actions,” Mr Perinchief will tell his parliamentary colleagues.
“If we are to depend upon the Police to strongly enforce the laws of the land and to meet a challenge which threatens our way of life, our responsibility as citizens is to support the lawful exercise of their authority and to encourage people of all ages to respect their work and to play their part in bringing an end to this violence.”
Getting tough on gangs in the streets will be matched by a tougher sentencing regime for “offences committed as part of or in furtherance of unlawful gang activity” if Mr Perinchief has his way.
“I favour a sentencing regime that permits a judge to take account of the circumstances in which certain offences have been committed and to add an additional term of imprisonment where those circumstances involve unlawful gang activity,” he will say.
“We cannot treat these offences as ordinary and our criminal justice system should have the means by which to reflect public sentiment and the accepted detrimental effects on our country at the sentencing phase.”
And the Minister will inform the country that Government is already facilitating mediation between warring gangs.
“A dialogue must be cultivated and if what we hear is to be believed, in some cases the issues that divide these young men can be resolved through the mediation of an honest broker leading a full discussion.”
Educators will be taught how to identify the “red flags” of the gang lifestyle “so that no opportunity to prevent a descent into the gang culture is missed.
“Simply put, the school intervention effort must be: identify, prescribe, intervene and follow-up.”
Minister Perinchief will work with Families Minister Glenn Blakeney and the Island’s social assistance framework to urge a “priority tasking for case management in support of gang prevention and where possible a renewed focus on wider familial issues in this area”.
“As part of this action we must establish a family assessment service to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the needs and challenges of multi-problem families in high risk neighbourhoods, leading to an intervention/service plan to address those identified needs,” Mr Perinchief will say.
“Concurrently, we will address overlaps and gaps in existing approaches by agencies, aligning their work to a critical continuum: gang prevention, gang intervention and gang suppression.”
The Minister will also signal Government’s intention to encourage the private sector “to adopt clubs in support of much needed infrastructure improvements.”
But he will also call on local community leaders to encourage community based projects “that improve surroundings and provide positive social networking opportunities.
“This will build an atmosphere of inclusion, providing the familial-style base, the absence of which lures some into the gang lifestyle.”
And the Minister will inform his colleagues that the much praised Operation Ceasefire programme is almost underway.