Crackdown: PC Krishna Singh and Anne Hyde, secretary and treasurer of Paget Parish Council, hung neighbourhood watch posters in the area this week in a bid to deter criminals from targeting homes in the community. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Crackdown: PC Krishna Singh and Anne Hyde, secretary and treasurer of Paget Parish Council, hung neighbourhood watch posters in the area this week in a bid to deter criminals from targeting homes in the community. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

FRIDAY, MAY 27: Parish councils are being urged to take a bigger role in fighting crime and community safety.

Wayne Perinchief, Minister of National Security, wants them to assist in an island-wide crackdown on anti-social behaviour and law-breaking.

He believes neighbourhood watch schemes, the nine parish councils and the confidential Crime Stoppers hotline will help improve communities.

Powerful

Mr Perinchief said: “Neighbourhood, community and family involvement make for good, safe communities.

“I’d like to see a board of parish councils to assist with a country-wide programme.

“Doing this in conjunction with Crime -Stoppers and neighbourhood watches will make it an even more powerful initiative — one I’m sure will improve our neighbourhoods and help cut crime.

“The parish councils also have a direct link to MPs and all the resources Government has to offer.

“By doing this across the island, we could have a linked-in network.

“Right now, neighbourhood watches operate as a separate entity, but by working with the parish councils, they can all help improve local areas.

“Parish councils have a lot of power and they can ask for things such as better street lighting, CCTV, better roads.

“They can also ask for the removal of derelict vehicles and garbage — the kind of things that lead to a loss of esteem in neighbourhoods and can increase crime.

“It’s a way of linking local government to big government and the neighbourhood watches to help create better communities.

“Parish councils are under utilised but they are appointed by Government and could play a much bigger role.”

Mr Perinchief spoke following a drive last week to set up neighbourhood watch schemes in Pembroke — one of the areas most scarred by gun violence.

He said: “I intend to continue working to get these linkages forged.

“I want neighbourhood watches up and working with parish councils all over Bermuda to deal with localised problems.

“If they can focus on crime and passing tips to Crime Stoppers, we can really do something about crime. It’s a long-term strategy but one that uses institutions that already exist rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

“We want people to take back the power — the people are the government and we want them to help sort out the issues that worry them.”

Mr Perinchief will contact parish councils and encourage local MPs, constituency PLP branches and Cabinet colleagues to drum up support.

Anne Hyde, secretary and treasurer of Paget Parish Council, has started a neighbourhood watch in her own area.

Value

Ottiwell Simmons, Paget Parish Council coordinator and a former PLP MP, is working to form closer links between the council and watch schemes.

Ms Hyde said: “It definitely has merit if it is to be introduced across the island. The way we are going to solve Bermuda’s crime problem is to get everyone involved.

“As long as there is a clear channel of communication, neighbourhood watches and parish councils working together will definitely be of value.

“It’s a great way for the island to coordinate local services at a very local level.”