Better education and narrowing income inequality are the keys to solving gang violence, the new Minister of National Security said yesterday.
Wayne Caines said: “Violence and antisocial behaviour must be addressed. Strong enforcement is a part of the solution, but we must also address the root causes of violence and ongoing gang activities.
“Solutions to these problems demand a cohesive approach on education, in our homes and in our families, by our churches and every institution playing a part in Bermudian life.
“The impact of poor educational outcomes and income inequality must now form the foundation of our understanding and drive the work to find solutions.”
Mr Caines said that since the outbreak of gun violence in 2009, successive governments had worked to solve the problem and those measures remained in place.
But he added that efforts need to be “refreshed and refocused” and stressed the importance of community involvement.
Mr Caines said: “Understand that our national economic success will not yield a return if we cannot enjoy that success in safety.
“In the coming weeks we will be organising structured outreach to members of the clergy and other leaders of the faith community.
“These men and women are this community’s leading moral voices and our intention is to expand the reach of those ministries and their authority to empower the congregations and communities they serve as a powerful means by which to stem the multi-generational trauma and the violence it causes.”
Mr Caines added that education and employment will be at the forefront of Government’s efforts.
He said the Ministry of Education would aim to provide the earliest possible help for pupils at risk of gang involvement, while he would meet employers in a bid to provide opportunities for Bermudians through jobs and training.
Mr Caines added: “The Premier and my Cabinet colleagues have expressed their full support for these initiatives and as a government we know that every ministry, every department, every authority or quango has a vital role to play in making Bermuda safer for all.”
“Although these are early days in this administration, the tone has been set for how critical it is to tackle the issue of violence in this community.
And he warned: “We risk losing a generation if we fail.”
Mr Caines said that the Inter Agency Gang Taskforce will be “reactivated” and play a key role in efforts to address gang violence.
He added that a Gang Violence Reduction Co-ordinator — a post proposed in the Progressive Labour Party’s election platform — had been identified, although he declined to name the candidate.
Mr Caines said: “We should be able to make an announcement in the not too distant future.”