Criminal gangs, in a major extortion racket, have ‘captured’ bus and taxi parks in a number of towns across the island, collect money from drivers who use them and use it to fund their underground operations.
A tough-talking Bunting, in on interview on the JIS television programme Issues and Answers, said several town centres across the island will be targeted as the strategy is to “choke off supply of funds” from organised crime networks.
“…Wherever criminal groups have commandeered parking lots, and they proceed to operate it as commercial parking facilities, or where they have commandeered any public space, or public facility, and using it to turn a profit and to extort payment from public passenger vehicles, the police are targeting these areas to choke off the fuel for criminal organisations,” said the security minister, noting that once money is dried up from the criminal groups their existence will also fade.
Bunting, meanwhile, reported that the decline in major crimes in 2014 was done with fewer arrests and less than 15 curfews. He said in the past there would have been “thousands of curfews across communities where young men were rounded up by the security forces”, but it has proven that crimes can be contained when policing is intelligence- driven.
“We made a deliberate decision that only in the most exceptional circumstances (I would) approve a curfew. This year we only had 14. We have also reduced the number of arrests,” the minister pointed out.
Bunting said, too, that so far this year police fatal shootings have been reduced by 50 per cent, with 300 fewer persons losing their lives. “We have close to 700 fewer victims of serious and violent crimes this year, including murder, shooting, rape, and aggravated assault,” he said. He added that 192 fewer persons have been murdered this year.
“What is important is the most effective use of police resources. We are about smarter policing,” said the security minister.