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Police seize nine guns

Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley(Photo by Glenn Tucker)

Police have seized nine guns linked to a slew of firearms offences this year.And that statistic shows that a gun bounty initiative introduced in May has “delivered results”, according to Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley.In a statement delivered in the House of Assembly yesterday, Mr Dunkley said that five conventional handguns, two air pistols and two imitation firearms had been taken off the streets.“As a result of forensic examination, one firearm has been linked to seven different gun crimes, while another firearm has been linked to two separate offences,” Mr Dunkley said.“These weapons have now opened up potential lines of enquiry that weren’t there previously, and will hopefully lead to the progression of some of the open cases to the point where charges can be laid against culprits who are still at large.”Questioned by the Opposition, Mr Dunkley said that just one gun had been voluntarily handed in to police. He did not say if any of the other eight guns had been seized by officers as a result of tip-offs provided under the gun bounty programme.Last week Police Commissioner Michael DeSilva announced that crime rates has fallen to their lowest levels since 2000, and yesterday Mr Dunkley listed a raft of measures introduced since the OBA Government delivered its first Throne Speech in February.“Ten substantive promises were made in the area of public safety and in the five short months since, much has been accomplished and the Ministry of Public Safety has delivered on its promises to the people of Bermuda,” Mr Dunkley said.He told MPs that a co-ordinator for Operation Ceasefire had been hired and the programme was now “actively working with young people to identify their needs and address the social issues that have caused their gang affiliation”.“The result of this street-level interaction has been some of the clearest indications that our young people want to do better with their lives and are prepared to reject the destructive gang lifestyle,” Mr Dunkley said.“Our role is to equip them with the skills and opportunities to succeed in this community and in this economy.”The Minister said the potential of the Inter-Agency Gang Task Force was now being fullfilled, while four officers will be trained in GREAT, the gang-resistance programme that sends police into schools.He highlighted four public safety bills passed with “the unanimous support of this Honourable House” which cracked down on smuggling items into prison, put the proceeds of crime back into positive use in affected communities and increased the size of the Parole Board.And he told his parliamentary colleagues that members of the Government will soon be subject to random, mandatory drug testing.“I am pleased to advise Honourable Members and the public that Cabinet has approved the policy. It has been reviewed by our Caucus and will be shared with the general public via our website shortly.”Mr Dunkley also highlighted a revamped Neighbourhood Watch programme and pointed out that funding has been provided for an additional 20 police officers.“This economy has encouraged more and more skilled Bermudians to consider uniformed service and, thanks to this Government remaining true to its promise, the actual strength of the Bermuda Police Service will increase to 450 this year,” he said.An additional 25 reserve police officers will be trained in September.“Significant progress has been made inmay areas of the Ministry but I wish to assure the people of Bermuda that there will constant effort on our part to keep Bermuda safe — we will not let up in staying true to that promise,” the Minister concluded.