Ending conscription. New sentencing framework for illegal drugs. Small Claims Court. The PLP has several ideas to build a fairer Bermuda that works for all of our people.
The pursuit of and commitment to, freedom, justice and equality has been the hallmark of The Progressive Labour Party. Throughout our history, the PLP has fought for change and pushed our country forward. The PLP has always believed in steady progress for our people and change that moves us forward together. While much has been done, much remains to be done to expand fairness for all.
Your PLP Government has
• Introduced one man, one vote of equal value
• Introduced fairness and equality to our municipal elections by expanding voters rights
• Modernised the Legal Aid Scheme ensuring that lacking funds is no barrier to having legal representation
• Created the Witness protection Unit to protect vulnerable witnesses
• Enacted the Jurors Amendment Act to increase the numbers of potential jurors for trials
• Implemented PACE
The next PLP government will:
• End conscription, changing the policy that saw young men drafted into the Bermuda Regiment. This system will be replaced by a move towards a smaller, full time, paid, professional Regiment
• Introduce new sentencing frameworks to reclassify sanctions related to different types of drugs
• Implement a Judicial Complaints Authority
• Establish a Small Claims Court
• Enhance the Bermuda Police Service’s Victim Liaison Officer Programme
• Move to change laws that see Bermudians imprisoned for civil debt
Now more than ever, the governing of our country must be driven by a social conscience……. compassion for the most vulnerable of our people………. a vision that puts Bermudians first and a team of experienced, talented, energetic and hardworking public servants. Stand strong with us as the PLP stands strong for Bermudians
If you believe in social justice, equity and fairness for all our people, we encourage you to vote solidly PLP!
Wayne Perinchief helped bring about the lowest overall crime rate in five years. Cole Simons has done nothing. MP Simons has been in the house for years and hasn't proposed any ideas or solutions.
Last week, the Hon. Wayne Perinchief, Minister of National Security was announced as the Progressive Labour Party candidate for Smith's South. Supported by the Party Leader & Premier, the Hon. Paula A. Cox, JP, MP, and the Branch Chairman, Mr. Andre Place, Mr. Perinchief proudly spoke of his political career to date and of the PLP's achievements in government.
Mr. Perinchief has been a Member of Parliament since 1998, representing Pembroke West Central from 1998-2003 and then Pembroke Central since 2003. He has also served in Cabinet as the Minister of Community & Cultural Affairs. Prior to entering politics, Mr. Perinchief was a member of the Bermuda Police Service where he rose to the rank of Assistant Police Commissioner. He retired from the Bermuda Police Service in 1995 as the head of the Criminal Investigations Department.
As the Minister of National Security, Mr. Perinchief has been effective in striking the gentle balance between standing strong for Bermudians and providing an enabling environment for guest workers. The Ministry of National Security has responsibility for Public Safety and also Immigration matters.
In the upcoming general election, Mr. Perinchief will be contesting Smith's South for the first time. Challenge is something that Mr. Perinchief does not take lightly as in 1998, he (along with running mate the Hon. Neletha Butterfield) turned Pembroke West Central from a UBP stronghold to a PLP stronghold and have held their seats ever since.
The Progressive Labour Party is pleased to announce Mr. Perinchief as the candidate for Constituency 8, Smith's South. We encourage the residents of Smith's South to recognize the achievements of Mr. Perinchief and the Progressive Labour Party team and to support Team PLP on Election Day.
Minister Perinchief replaces the formerly announced Ms. Linda Merritt as Ms. Merritt withdrew her candidacy for personal reasons.
On Monday, Minister Wayne Perinchief announced a new express lane for persons with nothing to declare. This will help to get Bermudians and visitors through the customs process faster.
The second initiative that is underway is the implementation of the "red/green" channel system for passage through Customs. The public will recall that this too was promised in February's Budget Statement. The aim is to provide arriving passengers with an option of using a "nothing to declare" line hastening their passage though the airport and emphasizing the obligation to properly declare goods. This procedure is in place all over the world and as a business and tourism destination anything that improves the visitor experience at the airport must be welcomed.
Plans for necessary renovations to the Customs Arrivals Hall and secondary inspection area are well advanced and we are working towards an operative date of 1st October this year.
Faster customs is just one way that the PLP is surely and steadily moving Bermuda forward.
Yesterday, Minister Wayne Perinchief highlighted a new piece of legislation set to be passed that increases sentences for gang members convicted of crimes.
Minister Wayne Perinchief:
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will have noted that the Bill creates a sentencing regime based on the commission of crime as part of unlawful gang activity. For the first time we seek to define, in law, an unlawful gang. That definition connects the number of persons with the commission of crime and the benefits, financial or otherwise that accrue to the unlawful gang.
Mr. Speaker, the Bill proposes that a sentencing court will be entitled to take into account those overt actions associated with the gang lifestyle. Names, signs, symbols, frequent associations and activities related to the gang all factor into this equation. For the avoidance of doubt, Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that these determinations form part of the sentencing phase and so no prejudice is caused to the innocent man or woman. For a court to have regard to these things an individual must, by definition, be convicted of some offence.
Mr. Speaker, some Honourable Members will be familiar with the concept of the increased penalty, which has been considered and passed in this Honourable House in relation to the Misuse of Drugs Act and which is applied in the Courts today. Mr. Speaker, the principle in this Bill is similar in that the “aggravating” feature of the crime committed is the unlawful gang activity at its core. Mr. Speaker, the Bill requires the court to first determine the basic sentence for the offence committed and where the offence committed falls within the definition of unlawful gang activity an additional element of imprisonment or fine is then imposed.
When it comes to public safety, the PLP continues to take action. While there's still more work to do, we're making sure and steady progress working with the police to bring down crime. This new piece of legislation will help us crack down on the gang problem and keep violent gang offenders in prison longer.
We're doing so much to address the crime issue. We've strengthened sentences, given police more flexibility to question and investigate criminals, we've introduced new crime fighting technology, we've strengthened prevention programmes, we've made the judiciary more efficient and now we're toughening sentences for gang members. While there's more work to do, it's clear that sure and steady progress is being made.
Today, Minister Wayne Perinchief announced that the PLP delivered on tougher sentences for gang offenders and that we are implementing the acclaimed Street Safe Programme beginning next week.
We are pursuing a mix of policies that include both tougher sentences and prevention efforts. And, what we're doing is surely and steadily working. Crime is going down thanks in part to our work. Minister Perinchief announces the tougher sentences for gang offenders:
I am pleased to advise Honourable Members that today, this Government delivers on two further key aspects of those promises. I will table the Criminal Code Amendment Bill 2012 which makes provision for additional sentences where crimes are proved to be committed as part of unlawful gang activity. Mr. Speaker, these additional sentencing powers will provide the Courts with the ability to properly reflect the public sentiment surrounding the negative effects of such crimes on this community.
And, he noted that the successful Safe Streets Programme, started in Boston, is starting in Bermuda this weekend. Minister Perinchief:
I am pleased to advise this Honourable House that a team from Boston's Street Safe Programme arrive in Bermuda this weekend and for the coming week will conduct intensive training of the first wave of those who would form the backbone of the gang mediation initiative.
Mr. Speaker, close to 30 men and women will spend four days receiving best practice instructions from a team whose track record is enviable and who come well equipped to provide the platform for our local success. This has been achieved with cross-ministry support and at the end of the week I will be joined by the Honourable Premier and other Ministerial colleagues to provide an overview of what I expect will be a successful week's intensive work.
It's working. We're working with the police to surely and steadily bring crime down in Bermuda. We're addressing the sentencing and enforcement side as well as the prevention and rehabilitation side. Over the last few years, we've passed a rash of measures to address these problems. We've taken proactive action. And, now, we're pleased to say that it's working.
The PLP continues to strengthen our laws to build a safer Bermuda. Earlier this week, it was reported that the police are using a new law to break up questionable groups.
Minister Wayne Perinchief made the announcement on Friday:
In particular, Mr. Speaker, section 110A of the Criminal Code sets out the circumstances in which the Police can disperse groups engaged in the intimidation or harassment of residents. Additionally, the section empowers the police on certain conditions to ensure the return to adult supervision of young people under the age of 17. Mr. Speaker, these are weighty powers afforded to the State and must be used sparingly.
I have discussed the heightened concerns of residents with the Commissioner and he in turn has shared with me the reports from his officers in direct contact with neighbourhood watch members. The accounts indicate that residents are not prepared to tolerate intimidation and harassment from a minority, some of whom are not even from the area in which they congregate. We cannot urge citizens into community action in gang prevention and not support the very objective they serve: making Bermuda safer for all.
Mr. Speaker, the unity of purpose that has supported the strong policing strategy during these last two years in particular, must now be on display as the Police respond to the community call to disband groups gathered for no beneficial purpose. Law abiding citizens must not only feel safe in their homes, but deserve to enjoy their surroundings, the parks and streets free from intimidation and harassment.
Mr. Speaker, this Government is committed to supporting the Police in the exercise of these powers provided for by law. These are extraordinary times and the successes in crime reduction, borne out in detailed results, have come about because of strong policing, effective Government support and growing community engagement. I am confident that the prudent exercise of these powers will strengthen community confidence and improve the quality of life for Bermuda’s people.
We are committed to continuing to advance reforms to build a safer Bermuda.
On Friday, the PLP Government in conjunction with the Bermuda Police Service trained teachers, counselors, and education professionals on identifying and eradicating gang activity.
The Gang Education and Intervention Workshop for educators took place on Friday.
It was facilitated by BPS Assistant Commissioner David Mirfield and members of the BPS, presenters shared information that will help Counselors and Educational Therapists identify students involved in gangs or gang activity. This was the third such workshop for community stakeholders.
Participants were given information on how to minimize and eradicate gang activity in their schools including how school staff can implement preventative policies and programs to assist students who may be on the cusp of becoming involved in gangs. Workshops are being held as part of the Ministry’s six point strategy outlined in February which forms part of the Government’s continuing gang prevention strategy.
Other presenters representing the MIRRORS program provided information on community based resources available to schools as needed. During the course of the workshop, teams developed preliminary intervention plans for their schools which will be further developed after the workshop.
Minister Wayne Perinchief:
The dedicated staff in the Ministry of National Security have been working diligently to implement anti-gang programmes for stakeholders In our community. This is the latest of several workshops held for specific groups who are involved with those who may be in or are vulnerable to joining a gang. As I have said before, the public, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins – the entire family has a part to play in ensuring our youth do not become involved in anti-social and gang behavior. And we in the Ministry of National Security are doing all we can to ensure everyone becomes part of the solution.
Defeating crime won't happen overnight. It takes the small things like this - the community coming together and working together to build a safer Bermuda. We're doing our part to facilitate events like this and it's working. While we still have more work to do, the statistics don't lie: we're bringing crime under control and building a safer Bermuda.
After we introduced a raft of tougher laws, introduced new crime fighting technology and reformed our justice system, we saw crime in Bermuda drop.
We're not letting up.
We're continuing to improve our security situation. And, that includes keeping drugs out of the hands of our young people. Minister Wayne Perinchief outlined a new initiative to help keep drugs out of Bermuda:
I am pleased to advise Honourable Members that the border control elements of HM Customs have provided a dedicated team tasked with enforcing customs controls at ports of entry for all cruise ships scheduled to arrive during this 2012 season.
Mr. Speaker, in support of these efforts, the Department has partnered with the cruise lines in a unique way to ensure that interdictive efforts are intelligence driven. Additionally, Mr. Speaker, a strategic partnership has been forged with the US Customs Border Protection HSI or Homeland Security Investigations. Through these invaluable links, the department is well positioned to meet the challenge of illegal importation of drugs and contraband into Bermuda.
There's more. We're also strengthening our maritime enforcement. Minister Perinchief:
Bearing in mind the increase in gun crime and the need to keep ahead of drug activity, these discussions were particularly timely. Mr. Speaker, all Service Chiefs and Department Heads concur that there are opportunities for greater interdiction operations and to devise innovative means to address Bermuda’s maritime capability in support of interdiction efforts...
Mr. Speaker, it is intended that the Regiment take on a more formal inshore maritime security role, using a full-time force. The Regiment would recruit, train and deploy a full-time Boat Troop to take over the routine inshore maritime patrolling task of the BPS. In the interests of efficiency, it is not intended that this be a “quick-fix”. The Regiment already has strong links with the US Coastgaurd, Canadian Maritime Police, and the Royal Marines who can assist with training, however, it will take time to recruit and train the necessary personnel.
A strong maritime and cruise presence means more opportunities to stop drugs and arms before they make it to our shores. This alone won't solve our crime problem, but, it is part of a comprehensive series of reforms that have helped bring our crime rate down.
Today, Minister Patrice Minors and Minister Wayne Perinchief announced a new card to make clearing immigration easier for our guest workers.
Minister Perinchief explains the ease of use of the cards:
These economic times should awaken the best in us. In times of challenge we must devote more energy to innovation and to those steps that will demonstrate that we in Bermuda are confident in ourselves and in the prospects of economic growth.
Today's traveller is confronted by the realities of the modern global condition at every turn. This is magnified for the business traveller whose livelihood depends on the ability to move quickly and to have minimal hassle while doing so. Bermuda can provide such an experience and as part of our commitment to do so I am pleased to present a technological solution to improve one aspect of our airport experience.
The fast pass card is the beginning of the end for the traditional 8 1/2 x 11, paper work permit. This credit card sized option is a durable, user-friendly alternative to the paper permit. The card is machine-readable and stores all information necessary for border control purposes at Bermuda's points of entry.
Card holders can pack away their passports once on the plane and simply present their fast pass card on arrival at LF Wade International Airport.
Minister Minors agrees:
Ladies and gentlemen, this would mean that at any given time our Customs and Immigration officials at the L.F Wade International Airport are processing large volumes of guest workers who are coming through our borders, not to mention balancing these numbers with our returning residents and visiting tourists.
So we certainly applaud the introduction of the Fast Pass Card as being a hassle free and convenient way for our guest workers to enter in and out of the Island.
This new programme will ease the burden on our immigration officials, it will make the lines go faster, and, it will help make immigration a faster and more efficient process for us all.
Today, Minister Wayne Perinchief announced that we are relaxing the visa policy to encourage visitors to stay longer and spend more here in Bermuda.
Minister Wayne Perinchief:
Mr. Speaker, Honourable members will be aware that the current policy for visitors to our shores is to permit an initial stay of 21 days. For longer stays, application must be made to the Department of Immigration. Mr. Speaker, true joined-up Government requires that each Ministry do its part to facilitate key economic goals of the country as a whole.
Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise Honourable Members that with effect from 1st May 2012 the initial visitor stay will be extended to 90 days. Mr. Speaker, this provision for initial longer stays will compliment efforts to promote Bermuda to European guests who traditionally spend more time in their destinations of choice. Additionally, this extended stay will support the fractional housing product and efforts by hospitality providers to promote Bermuda as a genuine second-home to those who can afford to make it such.
Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members will recall that we have already provided the 90 day stay to visiting yachtsmen and their crews and this extension to land-based visitors is a logical one.
He also announced a new policy to encourage tourism from the booming BRIC economies:
Mr. Speaker, in addition to the change in the length of the initial visitor stay, I am pleased to advise Honourable Members of a further change in support of the efforts of my colleague, the Honourable Member, the Minister of Business Development and Tourism’s efforts to strengthen links with the BRIC countries.
Mr. Speaker, also with effect from 1st May 2012, a waiver of the requirement for a Bermuda Entry Visa will be implemented for visitors from Brasil, Russia, India and China. Mr. Speaker, this will operate on the same basis as extended to other countries. The traveler in possession of a visa for entry or transit to the US, UK or Canada will be afforded this privilege.
Mr. Speaker, with the implementation of this policy, visitors from the BRIC countries will more readily consider Bermuda as a travel destination and a business-friendly jurisdiction. The elimination of the process requiring a Bermuda Entry Visa from the British Embassy in the visitor’s home country will make Bermuda more attractive and sets us apart from competitors who may still require such an entry visa prior to arrival.
Mr. Speaker, this Government continues to be responsive to the needs of visitors both for leisure and for business. We continue to preserve our competitive edge recognizing that in this global economy, every effort must be made to maintain and promote those conditions to spur growth and demonstrate flexibility in our approach to regulation.
We look forward to these policy changes bringing more and varied visitors to our shores and ensuring that visitors can stay longer and invest more in our economy.