* Photo by Sirkka Huish. Demands: Senator Michael Dunkley, pictured with fellow UBP members, wants more police on Bermuda’s streets.
* Photo by Sirkka Huish. Demands: Senator Michael Dunkley, pictured with fellow UBP members, wants more police on Bermuda’s streets.
People should "talk without fear" to gang members to try to understand why they are shooting one another on our streets.

This is the view of United Bermuda Party politicians who are calling for a series of peace talks, where gang members sit around the table with members of the public and police.

They say the "country is in crisis" but things can only change if we understand the motives behind the escalating gun crime.

Senator Michael Dunkley, shadow Minister for Public Safety, claims there is a "profound disconnect between people" and that the public do not understand why gangs exist or why shootings happen.

He added that gang members believe society "does not understand their frustrations". Mr. Dunkley publicly called for peace talks yesterday, saying they will include people from all walks of life "getting the upper hand on the situation".

The aim is to help gang members "become good citizens and restore peace to our neighbourhoods".

Since May, there have been 14 shootings which resulted in injury and two people have been killed.

The crimes are believed to be gang-related.

FEAR

Senator Dunkley said: "Bermuda can take a big step toward easing the crisis by trying to grow understandings about why things are the way they are.

"We need to put people in situations where they can get to know each other better, where people can speak freely without fear about what they do, what they do and why they feel what they feel. The aim is to foster understandings where little exist.

"The goal is to use those understandings to fashion solutions for a more law-abiding society."

The UBP hopes Government will financially support the peace talks but stresses they should be run by community activists with no political affiliation.

They want the talks to begin early in the new year.

Senator Dunkley also said the UBP want an increase in police man-power "to maximum levels" to ensure a "strong and sustained" presence on the street day and night.

The party also wants to lift the police overtime ban, bring in more senior investigating officers and a narcotics expert and spend $2 million modernizing the police computer system.

Senator Dunkley said the police need "the tools and training... to better detect and catch criminals".

The UBP is also calling for a gun amnesty and a long overdue formal police review by a U.K. Inspectorate to find out "what is working well, what is not".

The last police inspection was in 2003.

Senator Dunkley added the Premier's "fight" with the Governor for operational control was "less than helpful".

He said: "Statements by ministers caught up in this fight undermine public confidence in the police, damage morale and make their work more difficult than it has to be."