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Caines hits out at police leadership

Poor planning: Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva has been criticised in House of Assemnly (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, accused Commissioner of Police Michael DeSilva of poor succession planning yesterday after three Bermudians were overlooked in the hunt for his replacement.

Mr Caines said they had applied to replace Mr DeSilva, who is due to retire this year. They were beaten to the position by Englishman Stephen Corbishley, an acting Assistant Chief Constable with Kent Police, who was appointed this week.

Mr Caines told the House of Assembly: “I am concerned that the police commissioner did not come from the rank and file of the Bermuda Police Service.

“Based on the lack of a suitably qualified Bermudian, we must challenge the Governor’s oversight and management of the leadership of BPS, and this sentiment is not directed at the current governor.

“There were also obviously failings by the current commissioner and his human resources manager in the areas of leadership, talent management and succession planning.”

MPs heard that there were six candidates for the post, three of whom were Bermudian — two assistant commissioners and one superintendent.

The BPS have two assistant commissioners: Antoine Daniels, who is Bermudian, and Martin Weekes, an English-born officer with Bermuda status.

All three superintendents, Sean Field-Lament, James Howard and Darrin Simons, are Bermudian.

Mr Caines said that the police service had suffered cuts under the One Bermuda Alliance government.

He said: “As with most government departments, the first budget line that was sliced was training, which included overseas attachments and training.

“Because of the decrease in the budget, staffing levels were also reduced.

“During the period from 2012 to 2017, the staffing level in the BPS fell from 460 to 400 now.

“This is a 13 per cent reduction, a significant decline, in an organisation charged with keeping Bermuda safe for both residents and visitors.

“You cannot expect stellar performance and development, without investment and training.”

Mr Caines said John Rankin, the Governor, “must make a clear priority for the new commissioner to identify, highlight, train and develop high flyers in the BPS”.

Opposition MP Patricia Gordon-Pamplin pointed out that the police training budget for 2017-18 had been $948,000, and cut to $889,000 for 2018-19.

She also challenged Mr Caines on the lack of funds available for police during the One Bermuda Alliance administration, which she blamed on spending restrictions caused by the massive debt inherited from the Progressive Labour Party government.

Mr Caines said that the PLP had plans in place that would allow funds to be allocated with “laser-like precision”.

The minister called for a Bermudian candidate to be ready for the job in five years’ time.

Speaking during the motion to adjourn, shadow minister Michael Dunkley outlined a reduction in the training budget from 2007-08 to 2011-12.

He also highlighted the police budget for the same timeframe, which he said showed that the “PLP got it wrong every year”.

He added: “The first point I made shows that the PLP cut training and my second point shows the PLP during their last tenure never funded the BPS properly.”

Mr Dunkley also pointed out that the deputy commissioner had not applied for the position, which he said was “illustrated clearly in the minister’s statement when he alluded to the three local applicants”.

He added: “It is our hope and our wish and we will try to hold everyone accountable to it — that the new Commissioner of Police, whenever he arrives to assume the mantle, gives it his top priority to ensure that all officers at every rank and every level of service have that requisite training and experience to enable them to have very early consideration as future candidates to fill this role.”

To read Wayne Caines’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”