FRIDAY, JUNE 15: A get-tough scheme to disperse wall-sitters and undermine gang activity is set to expand after a successful launch in the west end.
Parts of central Pembroke, Middletown and several sports clubs have all petitioned police to use the “authorization to disperse” powers to clear their neighbourhoods of potential trouble-makers.
National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief said: “It’s going to be extended… communities and sporting groups want these powers used to deal effectively with gang-related behaviour.
“They are all prepared to work with police to deal with it. It’s an ongoing process driven by public demand.”
Two weeks ago, the dispersal order legislation was used for the first time in Somerset.
Pembroke South East MP Ashfield DeVent, whose constituency includes Middletown, last night said that he had been calling for the same kind of initiative for some time — and that constituents had already approached him asking for the Somerset initiative to be used in the area.
Mr DeVent said: “My constituency covers Middletown and it could definitely use it, as could Friswell’s Hill — a number of people have asked about what they need to do to get it in that area.
“Anything that increases the police presence and sends a clear message to would-be drug dealers and criminals that it is not going to be tolerated is a good thing.
“It’s something I have been calling for for years now. There are a number of areas where things have been allowed to go on for far too long and where people seem to believe it’s their area to do as they think fit.
“I don’t think any area which has been plagued by this type of behaviour would have any complaints against this kind of initiative.”
Western Area Commander Ch Insp Robert Cardwell used the 2910 amendment to the Criminal Code to allow officers to move on people causing a disturbance in the Somerset and Cambridge Road area, said by locals to be under siege by men congregating in the area.
Ch. Insp. Cardwell said some of the men had been identified as having links to the MOB gang, while Cambridge Road was known locally as “Gun Alley”.
The initial order was due to run for two weeks – but has since been extended for another fortnight.
Local resident and prominent restaurateur Philip Barnett said: “The individuals involved are now nowhere in sight. We have already been on the empty plots clearing out bottles and we have a very big clear up scheduled for Saturday.
“We live in that area, we’re members of that community and we want what’s best for our families and our children.”
Mr Barnett added that the prestigious Cambridge Beaches resort was also close by — and that tourists did not want to run a gauntlet of wall-sitters.
He said: “My businesses are supported by the tourists that places like Cambridge Beaches bring in and we need to put the best face on Bermuda.
“I firmly believe the real Bermuda is not the bad things we hear about on a daily basis, it’s about what made Bermuda such a great place to live and grow up in for so many of us.”
Rolfe Commissiong, a former Cabinet Office advisor who will fight the Pembroke South East seat at the next election, said: “If this type of dispersal order can assist beleaguered communities by enhancing their public safety and quality of life, then I’m all for it.
“I’m not alone in wanting to ensure that civil rights are not being grossly violated in the process of doing so, but I’m inclined to back this initiative. To some degree, it’s long overdue.”
Mr Commissiong added that he was also worried about the potential for problems to be transferred to other areas – although Somerset police said they were aware of that and would monitor offenders to ensure they did not just move elsewhere.
Mr Commissiong said: “We need to see how the potential problems are dealt with on a long term basis — six months to a year — to see if this is a successful measure.”