Get serious about mediation: that’s the plea from community activist Leroy Bean. *File photo

Get serious about mediation: that’s the plea from community activist Leroy Bean. *File photo

Government needs to get serious about gang intervention and rehabilitation to prevent Bermuda’s gun problem from getting even worse.

That’s the verdict of pastor Leroy Bean — who runs anti-gang organization CARTEL.

Pastor Bean’s voluntary organization attempts to mediate between rival gangs, offer safe haven for those seeking to leave the lifestyle and create educational or job opportunities for ex-gangsters.

The group is regularly consulted by police and referenced by Government as a ‘go-to’ agency for young people who want to escape the bullets flying on the street.

But Pastor Bean believes ‘lip service’ is not enough.

He believes the Government needs to provide sufficient funds to allow CARTEL to expand its work.

He said no other agency had the access and the community contacts necessary to mediate street conflicts.

And he believes, with police and Government backing, CARTEL could help prevent shootings before they happen by mediating between rival groups.

In the long-term he believes the organization could convince and help young thugs to change their lifestyles.

“This is what we do already. But to do it on a larger scale we need finances.

“Right now CARTEL is the only anti-gang group out there on the front line. We need their backing to help us put a dent in this problem.

“Without proper funding we are just playing a game.”

He said programmes like Mirrors were helpful but they were not always getting through to the right people.

And he believes his group, which employs reformed gang members as well as social workers, could have a more direct effect on the streets.

A similar approach was used in Birmingham, England to combat gang crime with the Centre for Conflict Transformation playing a key role in mediating between warring thugs.

The group used community mediators, including former gang members, to help bring peace to the city.

Pastor Bean believes the same ideas can be used in Bermuda. But he insists the solution must be local.

“We’ve been working in this area for 12 years. We need to start to take it to another level.

“We always think the solution lies overseas. But real intervention requires community relationships, you have to build up trust.

“We have put a lot of money into punishment. We are passing all these laws about parenting but we haven’t put any money into prevention and intervention.”

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