Normally Ministers provide statements to Parliament to update members on matters of importance within their Ministry. Friday’s statement by National Security Minister Renee Ming entitled “Gang Violence” does not fall into that category.
Instead, it is a reaction to recent ghastly gun violence that has rocked the community. This is simply not good enough!
While I appreciate the Minister’s intent, the contents of the statement provided little comfort that an impactful plan is being worked on. Sadly, it is a vague rehash of information already in the public domain and contains little to show progress or success with any programmes.
How many more young people will lose their lives to gang violence before significant, meaningful plans can be put into place?
We did learn that Pastor Bean and others are still employed but little was gleaned about the success of any work they have done.
When asked about programmes administered within every level of our public school systems that provide pro-social networks for students at medium to high risk for anti-social behaviour, Minister Ming provided a short list without much in the way of any detail or how effective the programmes actually have been.
When questioned if the GREAT programme was still being used in the Bermuda Public School System, the Minister seemed uncertain.
Gun and gang violence has rocked our community, torn families apart and ruined many lives. It is not acceptable that our focus on this scourge is only reactionary after each incident.
Instead, the consistent efforts being made to reduce and combat the impact of gangs on the island should be highlighted.
Minister Ming said we will not police our way out of this problem. I totally agree! While the Police play a very important part in this matter we should not forget that they have a tough job with reduced budgets under the PLP–a court system that is backed up and a strained probation services.
Support and focus in these areas in combination with gang violence programmes is the only way forward. Any weak link in one area allows this problem to fester and grow. We can do better.
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