Why no debate on violent crime report? Is it because crime is down? Senator asks
Government Senator Jonathan Smith criticised the Opposition for repeatedly setting back a proposed debate on violent crime.
But while Progressive Labour Party Senator Smith said he believed the Opposition was trying to retreat following positive crime statistics, One Bermuda Alliance Senator Michael Dunkley said that violent crime remained a high priority for the public.
Speaking during the Motion to Adjourn yesterday, Sen Smith questioned why the motion to debate a report on violent crime, tabled by the OBA, was set back.
“I believe that this has all become a rather inconvenient truth for the Opposition,” Sen Smith said.
“I believe that it is an inconvenient truth that the Government and police have had some success in this area. One has to ask, do they no longer want to discuss it?”
Sen Smith said that while the debate has been set back repeatedly, Opposition members have continued to claim violent crime rates have risen, despite police statistics to the contrary.
“The day after Senate met in December, the Opposition leader put an op-ed piece in
The Royal Gazette saying that law enforcement isn't working. He also said the justice system isn't working,” he said. “Say that to the guy who got 35 years in prison.
“Is that what the Opposition say about law enforcement? If I was wearing a different uniform, I would be offended. I'm not wearing a different uniform and I'm offended.”
The Senator listed legislation that has come forward in the last year aimed at targeting serious crime, including the Firearms Act and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and criticised the opposition for failing to attend a recent open meeting on community mobilisation.
Responding to the comments, Sen Dunkley said that Sen Smith was free to debate the issue of crime when he liked as demonstrated by his comments in the Motion to Adjourn.
He continued to say the Opposition supported the legislation put forward to deal with the issue, but that violent crime remained a high priority.
“If the Government wants to sit here today and pat themselves on the back for a job well done, the job is not finished,” he said. “Go out and ask people in the community if they feel safer in the community today than in the past. Have we done a good job? No, but we have made some progress.”
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