Commissioner and Spence plan area walkabout

A “walkabout” through locations troubled by gang violence is planned for this week by Stephen Corbishley, the Commissioner of Police.

Mr Corbishley said he organised the visit in tandem with Gina Spence, a community activist, after the two met last week with The Royal Gazette to discuss tactics.

Ms Spence used the discussion to call for bolder leadership in wrestling with Bermuda’s gang culture. She also told the commissioner that “every premier says the same thing” in public statements after a life was claimed by firearms.

She warned police that they faced ingrained distrust in breaking the fear and silence surrounding gun violence.

Mr Corbishley told the Gazette afterwards: “I plan to walk with Gina and have conversations with the families that live in certain locations.

“The point is that if the police service acts only on emergencies, there is not enough time and ability to form that trust.”

He said he had discussed the idea of a “summit”, bringing stakeholders together to collaborate, with Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security.

“It’s something we are going to work on,” he added. “He and I are very keen to have some form of summit with people in a room talking and building relationships — maybe including former gang members.”

The commissioner cited the example of parish constables in building one-on-one relationships with a community.

“It’s about community concerns and getting the community to direct what they want addressed, so that we become a proper public service.”

Mr Corbishley also gave the example of Divert, a scheme run in the UK by the Milestone Foundation, a charity advocating for young people, in tandem with the London’s Metropolitan Police.

He said he was would “put some effort in landing” a similar scheme on the island.

The programme works with young people who have been detained by police, to offer alternatives to gang life and potential employment.

Mr Corbishley said: “Just because I come from police, I don’t have to talk law and order all the time. As a part of a collective, I can ask what we can do differently and what are the best practices.”

The commissioner said he had called last week’s meeting with Ms Spence in an effort to lead police into “community-based problem-solving”.

He added: “My keenness is we do more work directly, one to one, with high-risk and vulnerable families and young people to ensure they stay out of crime and gangs.”

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