Relocating the eastern police station from Southside to St George’s is a consideration now on the front burner.
According to National Security Minister Wayne Caines, “opinions may be divided on this issue”, but he said any such move must consider the following:
- There is no need to operate from Southside Police Station and within the town at the same time. Nor would it be efficient or economic to do so. Only one location, or the other, should be considered.
- There is a long-term rental agreement with BLDC for Southside, and the building also houses Stores and the Forensic Crime Unit, so no cost savings will be immediately achieved there. However, there are other police units that could be relocated to Southside and cost savings might be made on other current rentals. This is of particular interest to me owing to my responsibility for the budget in this area.
- Additionally, the “old” police station in St George’s is neither habitable, fit for police purposes, nor large enough. None of the many refurbishments have managed to fix the multitude of problems, including leaking roof and rotting joists. This location, in my view, is not a likely option.
- I am advised that other locations were considered including Somers Play House and the old Youth Centre on Water Street. There may well be other suitable buildings. Factors like location, satisfactory parking, adequate size to accommodate staff and equipment, and all general safety and health requirements must be considered.
- Whilst a custody suite is not mandatory, if one is included, it must comply with the requirements of the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) Act as it relates to the safe custody of detained persons. This includes bedding, CCTV, climate control, security, and safety concerns.
In a Ministerial Statement delivered in the House on Friday, Mr Caines also said: “The Commissioner has made it clear to me that the BPS is not tied to Southside as an operating facility and have no objections to moving the police station. This of course is provided that the police officers are moved into an appropriately fitted building that properly supports policing operations.
“I felt it necessary to inform this Honourable House of these considerations and to assure the people of St George’s that these issues are on the front burner. This Ministry will continue to work with the Commissioner to determine the best policing plan in support of St George’s, providing a solution that inspires confidence, serves the growing town well and is economically viable for the long term,” he said.
He has also discussed the policing of St George’s regularly with both MPs from Constituencies 1 and 2, who both “have clearly set out the needs of their constituents and the importance of providing a robust plan for the policing of St George’s”.
Impressed by their determination and commitment, the Minister said it was “important to place in the record… some important facts surrounding the considerations for policing St George’s”.
Statistically, he said the parish “records amongst the lowest amount of crime across the nine parishes”, and “records a small percentage of the parish’s total crime”.
“Notwithstanding the statistically safe nature of the Town of St George’s, the Bermuda Police Service acknowledges that fear of crime and feelings of safety (or the lack thereof) are equally as important as actual crime itself,” said Minister Caines.
And any further development in St George’s will require a policing plan.
“If there is to be future development of the town (and the surrounding area); an integral part of that development process should include a policing plan. If new hotels and cruise ships bring substantial traffic and pedestrian increases to the town, it will be prudent to consider options to increase police presence.
“In the case of Dockyard, for example, the arrival a few years ago of two ‘mega’ cruise ships warranted the establishment of a satellite police office that is staffed whenever the cruise ships are in port,” said Minister Caines.
Ultimately, he said: “The aim of the BPS is to police the town in a manner that inspires public confidence. There is currently one Community Action Team (CAT) officer assigned to full-time duties in the town, and the rest of the CAT officers work on specific community problems on a regular basis. Uniformed patrols from Southside Police Station and Armed Response Vehicles (ARVs) are directed to patrol the town on a daily basis.”