Police are set to get new powers to disperse gangs in a bid to tackle an upsurge in gun crime.

Kumi Harford, a 30-year-old father, became the latest young man to lose his life - gunned down as he drove along St. Monica's Road early Saturday morning.

Police and legislators have been in discussions since June about proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, which would empower police to break-up groups causing a nuisance in the community.

The law would also enable police to issue 'no-go orders' banning anyone responsible for anti-social behaviour from hanging out in a certain area for up to two weeks.

The Amendment Act, to be tabled in the House on Friday, stems from discussions prompted by a slew of shootings in May, including the murder of Kenwandee 'Wheels' Robinson - a close friend of Mr. Harford who was killed on the same street.

Attorney General Kim Wilson and senior Cabinet ministers met with top police officals, including Commissioner in waiting Mike DeSilva, in the summer to ask what they could do to aid the fight against gangs.

Legislators are said to have offered to do 'whatever necessary' to give police power to end the gang violence that has led to 23 confirmed shootings this year.

Police rejected the concept of specific anti-gang legislation, arguing that strengthening laws which target the behaviour of gang members would be more effective.

AG Mrs. Wilson said Cabinet had, in the wake of those discussions, approved a "range of legislative amendments" to address gang-related violence.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Paul Wright said the service had recommended practical amendments to existing law rather than headline grabbing legislation. He said laws, which specifically outlaw membership of a gang, had proved ineffective in Cayman where there had been no prosecutions since the act was introduced five years ago.

He said tweaks to the existing law to help police do their job more effectively offered a more practical approach to the problem.

The Criminal Code Amendment Act 2009 has been fast tracked through the lengthy legislative process and will be tabled Friday, to be debated early in the new year.

"Not only will the Amendment Act define 'anti-social behaviour' it will also give power to the police to disperse groups of persons who 'hang out' in places known for anti-social behaviour and other crimes for the purpose of harassing and causing people distress," said Mrs Wilson.

Mr. Wright backed the changes saying they would make it easier for police to break the influence of gangs in their communities.

"We are talking about areas where anti-social behaviour is a significant and consistent problem. If we follow up a complaint and we find evidence of that kind of behaviour - graffiti, broken bottles, drugs stashed under rocks but there is no offence that has been witnessed then this power gives us the opportunity to move them along."

He said the power would also enable them to pick up kids hanging out in the area and take them home.

"There is no doubt that these groups are attracting youngsters as young as 11. Those associations begin very young. There is no doubt that youngsters are being used by some street dealers as look-outs and there is no doubt that persistent neighbourhood problems, not tackled by police, contribute to a lack of support and increase the fear of crime."

The act will also enhance police's stop and search powers in periods of heightened gang activity - such as the recent ongoing war between the Parkside and FourTwo crews which has been blamed for six shootings since October 31.

Currently police can request authorization for 'stop and search' powers for up to 24 hours in areas where violence is anticipated.

The act proposes to extend those powers to a maximum of a month if police can prove that it is warranted.

Further powers to deal with individuals who use face scarves and other items of clothing to conceal their identities are also included in the act.

Mr Wright said this would be particularly useful in policing high-risk events, where police surveillance teams often use videographers to record people coming in and out of venues.

'A community problem'

Amendments to the Private Investigators and Security Guards act to tighten up on licensing criteria for bouncers who work security at events around the island are also due to be tabled on Friday while Liquor Licensing legislation - aimed at controlling activity and attendances at private members' clubs - is also under discussion.

Mrs Wilson said all the legislative amendments were linked to cramping the activity of gang members.

But she insisted the Government and police could only do so much: "Even though the Government can attempt to provide the Police with further powers to assist them in the crime detection and prevention, legislation is not enough.

"The increase in gang and anti social activity is a community problem which can only be addressed by the entire community.

"We can not just sit back and leave it to the police and Government to solve the crime problems. We as a community must all be involved. If you witness any sort of criminal activity it is your duty to report it."