Caribbean News

Media Release from the Commissioner of Police

As Commissioner of Police it is my sworn duty to lead the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Service and to uphold the law and protect life and property. Anyone who doubts my resolve and determination in this regard has never met me.

Emotions are running high in the country for a variety of reasons and my officers, staff and I are using all the resources available to us to keep people safe and bring offenders to justice. In doing so I have enlisted assistance from colleagues in other overseas territories and partner agencies to provide technical support, ensured that the latest forensic techniques are used to help solve serious crime and gained the expert support of officers from the United Kingdom on short term appointments.

At all times I operate within the limits of the criminal law and the Ordinances of Turks and Caicos when I seek to enlist help or acquire new equipment. I operate within the budget limit set by Government and seek to get the best value for Turks and Caicos. It is for that reason that I recommended to Government that we should continue to work with partners to install CCTV in the country and utilise our limited resources to purchase other much need equipment and support. I am grateful that the Premier now considering allocating additional funding for this important crime prevention and investigation aid. It will of course require to be underpinned by an appropriate Data Protection Ordinance to ensure the privacy of citizens and make evidence admissible in any court proceedings.

Through dedication and hard work my officers and seconded colleagues are arresting criminals and providing quality evidence to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Most recently this has resulted in one person being sent to trial for a murder in North Caicos and six persons arrested and charged in respect of a murder at the end of 2014. One more person is sought for this crime and we actively seek to arrest him. Officers have also recently charged a number of offenders for robberies and burglaries. In terms of the most recent murders we are following very positive lines of enquiry, as well as technical help we have received significant assistance from members of the public and together I hope we can bring more offenders to justice.

Last year I recommended the formation of a National Security Council to tackle the major issues facing the country. That body is in place, we will meet again soon to agree some practical measures to impact on crime and the causes of crime. I would however emphasize that the police service alone, cannot be held responsible for all of the ills that currently befall any society. We are a “can do” organization, but we cannot do everything. The support of our partners in law enforcement is vital to us but I know that they too need extra support in their challenging roles.

Keeping our borders secure is crucial, biometric information and the ability to easily take DNA samples will enhance our capabilities to solve crime and identify perpetrators, updated criminal evidence legislation, a change to the way we manage our roads, vehicles and driving licenses, along with a number of other legislative improvements that I have already discussed with government, should combine to significantly improve safety and security.

From the outset of my tenure I identified the need for a proper Police Headquarters which is a critical building block to enable sustained improvement. A purpose built facility will enable us to do many things much more effectively, such as; provide command and control facilities for all routine and emergency situations;

provide a safe environment for the victims and witnesses of crime; securely keep persons in custody and comply with international law; provide interview facilities ensuring high quality evidence to courts, give officers and staff adequate working space to carry out their daily duties and feel valued in the community, amongst many others. I recognize the funding constraints for Government, but hope that this facility will materialise in due course, possibly with private sector funding involvement.

The father of modern day policing, Sir Robert Peel, set basic tenets for us to live up to as police officers and they are as relevant today as they were then. Paramount amongst them is that “The police are the public and the public are the police”. My officers are part of the community, they have the same concerns as you all do and the same desire and determination to make a difference. By working together we can change the paradigm and take the fight to the men of violence in our society and those who would harm our family, friends and beautiful by nature Turks and Caicos Islands.

 

James Smith

Commissioner of Police


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