Pubdate: Wed, 02 Nov 2005
Source: Royal Gazette, The (Bermuda)
Copyright: 2005 The Royal Gazette Ltd.
Author: Matthew Taylor


Premier Alex Scott has appointed Wayne Perinchief to head a new
National Drug Control Ministry to combat the scourge of illegal narcotics.

The Premier said drugs are the driving force behind crime in Bermuda
and the new Ministry was a bold, innovative step taken to further
combat drugs and crime.

He told The Royal Gazette: "The community will be most impressed and
encouraged the Government is now putting full attention -- a Minister for
drugs, full stop."

After serving as a Progressive Labour Party MP since 1998, Mr.
Perinchief will finally enter the Cabinet but Mr. Scott explained Mr.
Perinchief will not encroach on the Home Affairs and Public Safety
Ministry of Randy Horton who will retain all the authority he
previously held.

The Premier refused to say why he was adding to the Cabinet when he
had earlier promised to reduce the Cabinet and move to full-time Ministers.

Explaining his new post Mr. Perinchief told The Royal Gazette: "It is going
to be an overarching Ministry.

"It will impact on every Ministry -- any type of connection to drug
interdiction whether it be Alternatives to Incarceration and the
National Drug Commission.

"It will go into health and public safety because of the prisons and
the Police and also the rehabilitation side. It's going to be a
broad-reaching ministry."

There will be a big push to reduce demand for drugs through education
and rehabilitation, said Mr. Perinchief.

"We will not impact on the jurisdiction on the Commissioner of

"Nor will we impact on the jurisdiction of the courts."

"What we will try to do is implement policy on how they carry out
their role in dealing with drugs and drug offenders.

"At this stage we are still formulating policy and strategy. There
will be a partnering of all the groups -- a coordinated effort. My
role is coordination."

Mr. Perinchief, a former Assistant Commissioner of Police, said the
Police needed to go back to the days of Clean Sweep -- a large crack
down on street dealers set up in the mid 1990s.

"That approach was the correct one. I think we need to encourage that
to take the open dealing off the street. That should be a given."
Inexperienced Police could be part of the problem, suggested Mr. Perinchief.

He said the National Drug Commission will assume a pivotal role is
shaping policy, especially in education and helping the helping services.

That came as a surprise to Opposition Leader Grant Gibbons who said
Government had done a 180 degree turn on the NDC after ending its
autonomy in the last session and deciding to fold it into the Ministry
of Health.

Dr. Gibbons said the Premier was trying to appease the back bench who
were upset about being overlooked in favour of bringing back Lt. Col.
Burch who last week replaced sacked Works and Engineering and Housing
Minister Ashfield DeVent. And he questioned whether Mr. Perinchief had
any real power.

"Hopefully it isn't just window dressing and not just additional
bureaucracy. It some respects it seems as if the efforts of the
Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Public Safety have not been
terribly successful when it comes to drugs but apparently the Premier
is not of the view to make changes there. It is also a little bit of a
surprise given the Government said it would reduce the number of
Cabinet positions." Sandy Butterfield, the executive director of Focus
Counselling Services, welcomed the appointment.

She said: "Wayne is a good guy. If they had to do anything I think it
was a good choice."

Ms Butterfield noted Mr. Perinchief's long service on the National
Drug Commission board.

The appointment was also hailed by Mr. Perinchief's brother Takbir
Sharrieff who is organising march against drugs which he said was a
national scourge affecting the whole island.

"If we don't stop it now it will continue and eat up all the good that
has been done in Bermuda. It is no longer confined to the back
streets. It is everybody's problem. I think the Police are doing a
fantastic job but they have been labouring for many years without
help. We are saying Bermudians themselves need to get involved in
getting drugs out of neighbourhoods and families."

He said all it needed was for one serious ugly incident involving an
addict attacking someone in the international sector to spread alarm
and fear that Bermuda was no longer a safe haven for people to do business.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin