* Photo by Simon Jones. UBP Leader Kim Swan details his party's recommendations for dealing with the escalation of gun violence.
* Photo by Simon Jones. UBP Leader Kim Swan details his party's recommendations for dealing with the escalation of gun violence.
Taking on the gangs head-on and disrupting their lifestyles is the key to ending the spiralling gun crime that currently grips Bermuda.

That is the view of the United Bermuda Party, which is championing a U.S. programme called Operation Ceasefire, to bring peace to the streets.

The project involves police blitzing all gang activity and targeting street-level drug markets. And it has had significant success in cities across the U.S., including Cincinnati and Boston.

Yesterday Shadow Minister for Public Safety Michael Dunkley said police needed to be given whatever resources they need to deal with the gang related shootings.

And he called for a "visible armed 24/7 presence" in violence hot spots and around the clock surveillance of known gang members and drug dealers.

Mr. Dunkley said: "We have spoken to police here and overseas, plus law enforcement specialists engaged in anti-gang programmes, and it is clear to us that the Bermuda Police Service needs more highly trained officers to deal with the new violence.

"It is time for a major investment in police training. The budget remains 20 per cent below what it was two years ago. This is unacceptable and must end.

"Operation Ceasefire is a police-community initiative to deter gang violence by reaching out to gangs with a stick and carrot.

"Explicit warnings were issued that violence would no longer be tolerated and coming down hard with every legal lever whenever violence occurred.

"This meant disrupting gang lives with immediate and intense enforcement actions - serving warrants, mounting prosecutions, disrupting street-level drug markets and strict enforcement of conditions for probationers and parolees.

"The flip side of the plan is that if gang members wanted to step away from the violent lifestyle, the Ceasefire working group would help them with services and opportunities to make it happen."

The UBP also urged the government to "loosen purse strings" for police overtime pay so they could do their job properly.

And Mr. Dunkley said the use of CCTV and portable cameras in areas demanding surveillance should be stepped up.

He added: "If we expect the police to cope with the challenges of gang activity and a community unwilling to speak up and help solve crimes then they need to be equipped with the best technology. The need for a modern police computer system is urgent. Right now the police are operating a 15-year-old system. It is completely inadequate."

Party Leader Kim Swan urged Bermudians to look within their own families for solutions: "Families, you have to ask yourself seriously 'is there in our midst an individual who is part of the problem?'.

"Families - it is not good enough for us to allow our members to participate in this violence. Look deep into your heart and help police get the evidence they need.

"We have got to have the courage to be part of the solution. It is time to do the right thing."

During a press conference yesterday, UBP Deputy Leader Trevor Moniz accused the government of a succession of "knee-jerk reactions," adding: "What I do not see is a policy which addresses the issues we face.

"They call a Cabinet meeting, throw out a few suggestions and then let them disappear.

"It's a very inconsistent approach."

Gun violence special report:

Here's how to beat the gangs

US jails ready to take our thugs

60-days jail for suspects 'Draconian'

Police patrols to be stepped up as public trust wanes

Governor's silence on recent bloodshed is deafening

Government and the Corporations must work together to tackle the gun violence

Drug barons, not gangs, are to blame for shootings