Bermuda Police must address the violent crime problem. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Bermuda Police must address the violent crime problem. *Photo by Kageaki Smith

A healthy economy and beating the upsurge in violent crime go hand-in-hand, according to Premier Craig Cannonier.

And he said the private sector had pitched in to help fund programmes aimed at tackling gangs and gun crime, despite the recession.

Mr Cannonier said: “Crime will continue to be a challenge if we don’t get people back to work.

“You can’t have a large sector of the community not being able to afford to live in this country because some people will turn to crime to feed their families.

“We need to get people working again and feeling they are a successful part of this society. The more people laid off, the more people unemployed, the more of a challenge you’re going to have in crime.”

Mr Cannonier said: “The best social programme is a job — we have got to put people to work.”

He added: “Psychologically, it’s tough for people when they lose their jobs and can’t afford to feed their families.

“People have to understand that we feel their pain.

“In addition to a five-per-cent cut last year, Ministers have taken a 10- per-cent pay cut this year.

“We’re going to lead by example. Bermuda needs to know its leaders are there working with them. It’s painful, but there has to be shared sacrifice.”

 Mr Cannonier warned that rebooting the Bermuda economy would not happen overnight — but that his Ministers had been ordered to consider jobs and their potential impact on crime in all their decision-making.

He said: “Hope is alive now — I still walk around Hamilton and talk to people. I get hope from people that things are turning around.”

Mr Cannonier added: “I already see indications of that. The private sector stepping in and donating to help us with gang activity is a great thing.”

He said that he had spoken personally to potential investors from the east coast of the US and that “that was starting to come to fruition”.

Mr Cannonier added: “We didn’t get into this overnight and we certainly won’t get out of it overnight, but investment is coming in. I can’t say who because of reasons of confidentiality — but business is on the table as we speak.”

Mr Cannonier added that he was looking forward to steering his party’s “aggressive” legislative programme through the House of Assembly, despite the OBA’s slim majority.

He said: “I really think that makes for great politics. When you have a big majority, you tend to be able to push things through that haven’t been vetted enough.

“I think we have seen that in the past and term limits is an example.

“But this is a great opportunity for Bermuda — competition is good and I think Bermuda will benefit as a result.”