Hello Bermuda and thank you for tuning in.
As we start 2019 I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some milestones and key initiatives that the Ministry of National Security continues to work on this year.
The Gang Violence Reduction Coordinator along with the Outreach and Prevention Manager lead a multi-agency effort to reduce violence. The team is supported administratively by the Ministry of National Security Headquarters staff.
The team operates from a coordinated multi-prong plan to tackle gang violence and anti-social behaviour through a series of strategically designed prevention, intervention and rehabilitation programmes and initiatives.
To this end, the team works in conjunction with the Inter-Agency Gang Enforcement Team (IGET).
IGET is a multi-agency working group that identifies at-risk youth and has developed multi-pronged mechanisms to mitigate violence and support prevention and intervention efforts.
The first prong is the school initiatives -
Since September 2018, the Gang Violence Reduction Team (GVRT), alongside the Bermuda Police Service have been working with the Administration and Student Services teams at Cedarbridge Academy and the Berkeley Institute to provide support services for at-risk students. The team visits the schools at least once per week or daily when necessary. At Cedarbridge and Berkeley the team has provided restorative circles that aim to mitigate multi-generational unaddressed trauma.
In the senior schools, the goal of this initiative is to provide:
- Incident Management Support;
- Mediation Services;
- Individual Student Support Services; and
- Group Sessions. Pics of Berkeley and Cedarbridge school and students
This initiative has already seen several successes within the involved schools. The team has worked with the Department of Public Transport to develop transportation plans that get students home safely.
In recent instances of increased tensions, the team has been able to go into the schools and coordinate mediation sessions between students involved in rival gangs.
These interventions have realized a marked decrease in gang related conflicts at the schools and in the immediate after school hours.
The hallmark of this initiative is the continued individual and group sessions that the identified students are invited to participate in.
At Cedarbridge, the team is currently delivering a 10 week pilot Excellence Programme. The programme focuses on incident mediation, understanding risk levels, encouraging self-reflection and introspection.
Through these ongoing interactions, the Gang Violence Reduction Team is able to help these students realize their self-worth and see the many opportunities of self-improvement available to them.
The team’s involvement with our young people does not stop at the senior school level. Frequent interactions with the administration and guidance departments at our primary and middle schools have helped the team to identify potentially at-risk students and put intervention plans in place to ensure that these students steer clear of anti-social behavior.
The Gang Resistance Education and Training Programme (G.R.E.A.T.) has been educating public school students and to date has trained over 513 students in 22 schools and continues to rotate through the public school system. By June 2019, the G.R.E.A.T. programme will have reached all students in the Primary Six and Middle One year levels. Include Great Graduation Pictures
The second prong is community outreach-
The Gang Violence Reduction Team continues to lower community tensions, with a focus on Prison and Street Level Outreach. Wayne Caines & Pastor Bean Painting Wall
At each level of outreach, the connections made and relationships built facilitate the reduction of violence in two key ways.
Number one is by directly mediating tensions and conflicts between individuals and groups that lock people into destructive cycles of violence.
And Number two is by connecting the proven at risk population to much needed community-based programmes and services.
The team’s prison outreach provides support for incarcerated violent offenders with links to gang activity. Where appropriate, the team offers therapeutic services and liaises with prison staff to assist with developing long-term plans for the inmate’s rehabilitation.
For these identified offenders, the team provides an affirming resource that takes special interests in the wellbeing of the offender and their eventual reintegration into society.
The work of the Gang Violence Coordinator, Pastor Leroy Bean is high touch, highly confidential and sensitive. It involves directly working with persons who are currently involved or have been directly impacted by gang violence.
At the street level, the team’s overarching strategy is to target individuals and groups who are known players in the cycle of violent behaviour. The team provides intervention by developing trust-based relationships that serve to deescalate and mediate tensions when necessary. A major component of outreach at this level is connecting individuals to neighborhood resources and making necessary referrals to case managers.
The goal is to steer these young men towards pro-social activities by providing a range of opportunities for change.
One such opportunity is the Redemption Farm which is still in the planning and developmental phase, and is scheduled to be fully operational in the 2019/2020 fiscal year. With support and assistance from the Bermuda Farmers Association, the Redemption Farm will provide successful engagement of at-risk young men in a socially restorative, incentivized employment training programme.
Operated from a holistic approach, the programme will give participants the ability to obtain vocational and entrepreneurial skills through various forms of farming.
The Gang Violence Reduction Team’s relationship with community partners underscores much of the important work they do. The team supports a wide range of community groups that align with the team’s aims including: Mothers on a Mission (MOM) Bermuda, the Inter-faith Working Group, and Living Legends Community Group.
The work of the Gang Violence Reduction Team is important and should not be understated as they offer triage services and directly addresses the concerns of individuals or refer them to the appropriate agencies.
The third prong is policing-
Lead by the Commissioner of Police, the Bermuda Police Service are implementing their policing strategies. Weekly meetings are held between His Excellency the Governor, the Commissioner of Police and myself to review and receive updates on the operational policing plan for addressing and reducing gang violence.
Now many may say that all this sounds good but where is the proof that it is working?
If we look back over the last year and a half, from November 2017 there were no gun related incidents and then we had a spike in July 2018.
This was followed with another period of quiet which ended with the recent spate of gun violence, one of which sadly claimed yet another young man’s life.
Despite the unfortunate spikes of gun violence, overall firearm incidents have declined over the past three years.
Our statistics show that since 2016, firearms incidents, injuries and fatalities have decreased by approximately 40% year over year. I keep in the forefront of my mind that there were three deaths in 2018. Any loss of life is unacceptable. We know how it affects the family, friends and our community. Our aim is to reduce all gang related violent crime, including murder.
There is a plan in place and it is a work in progress. We see sparks of hope that indicate we are heading in the right direction.
Presently, our goal is to understand what caused the shootings and how to prevent them happening in the future through effective policing and gang intervention.
Alongside our strategies, over the next six months we will hold a gang summit to bring together all the community stakeholders.
Through implementing programs in schools, fostering community cohesion, and a strong police strategy we believe that we will be able to successfully decrease gang related criminality in Bermuda. If you want to participate in any of the initiatives highlighted, call 298-7150, or email email@example.com.
Remember, raising balanced boys and girls is easier than rehabilitating broken men and women.
Thank you for listening, and I wish everyone, all the best in 2019.