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Turks and Caicos Islands Government takes action against crime

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#Providenciales, September 16, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – The Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) has always outlined crime as a major priority and since coming into office has promoted the development of an effective crime strategy to improve citizen safety, prevention efforts and deterrence of crime; however, in recent weeks there has been an evident spike in gun related offenses and reports of home invasions and robberies in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

To reduce these seemingly isolated incidents of crime, and continuing to actively take action against crime in the Turks and Caicos Islands, TCIG has implemented numerous initiatives to assist police in ensuring the safety of TCI citizens and are evolving to improve upon existing initiatives in the fight against criminals.

  1. National Security Strategy – a comprehensive National Security Strategy is being developed to effectively confront crime throughout the country. This multipronged approach will identify immediate national security threats; efficiently manage the resources currently available; procure additional tools and resources for internal and external security agencies; strengthen partnerships internally and regionally and internationally collaborating on security initiatives and will engage the Turks and Caicos community in the fight against crime.
  1. Introduction of Scanning Equipment at TCI Ports – this will aid in the fight against the importation of weapons. This has been budgeted for in this current financial year 2019/20.
  1. Border Protection Agency – the formation of a Border Protection Unit and Central Intelligence Unit will unify all forces in defense of the country. Marine protection will include the acquisition of drone aircraft and additional sea craft to strengthen the current sloop interception rate.
  1. Community Policing – the relationship between the residents of these islands and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) is critical to discouraging criminality. The manner in which patrols are carried out by the RTICPF officers has been reassessed and since there has been an increase in foot patrols and a more strategic police presence in communities that are hot spots for criminal activity.
  1. More Resources for police – the new Commissioner of Police and Senior Executive Team for RTCIPF conducted a review of the force and TCIG has agreed to provide funding to recruit 20 officers and to support the establishment of a Specialized Gun Squad.
  1. Stiffer Penalties for gun crimes – since coming to Office TCIG has increased the mandatory sentence from 5 years to 7years.
  1. Rehabilitation Programme – this Government is committed to continuously investing in the people of the Turks and Caicos and consequently in July this year launched the Chance for Change Programme which aims to rehabilitate offenders through programs administered at Her Majesty’s Prison in Grand Turk and ultimately decrease the rate of recidivism (reoffending). This initiative offers drug and addiction rehabilitation programs, skill development in agriculture at the on-site farm, culinary skill development, educational opportunities and anger management sessions to support the transition of offenders into wider society upon release.
  1. Trade School – TCIG believes that there must be a means of making Turks and Caicos Islanders more employable, specifically the youth; hence, the Government is hastily working towards commencing a Trade School at the start of the new academic year.
  1. Domestic Fire Services to return to Grand Turk – due to the ongoing criminal activity of arson in Grand Turk, TCIG made a decision in its first Supplementary to purchase a Domestic Fire Truck for Grand Turk signaling the restart of Domestic Fire Services on this island. A fire truck has been secured during the last Budget cycle. The Government will be stiffening the penalties or persons found guilty of arson.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government stands with the Governor and the Commissioner of Police in the path ahead to reducing the increase in incidents of violent crime and maintaining the peace and tranquility of these islands. Our individual and communal safety in addition to the consequences that incidents of crime and violence can have on our Tourism, makes us all equal stakeholders in this vexing fight against crime. TCIG implores that together we must all do our parts to effectively assist in the efforts toward a safer Turks and Caicos Islands for all.

Release: TCIG

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Education

Education Minister announces Platinum Partnerships for internet and tablet program amidst COVID surge

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By Shaniek Smith

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – Schools did not resume in person learning in the Turks and Caicos on January 4, instead it was back to virtual classes for 7,400 children in the British overseas territory due to an omicron-driven surge in Covid-19 infections.

It was announced on the New Year’s Day holiday for TCI, January 3 in a press conference hosted by Rachel Taylor, the Minister of Education, and attended by Jamell Robinson, Minister of Health and supported by Premier Washington Misick, who was also at the live event.

In a promised update, parents got the not-so-good-news, virtual classes would resume at least until the end of January due to the surge and staff shortages being experienced.  Turks and Caicos, up to Thursday January 14 had over 800 active cases, five new deaths and a 600 per cent increase in hospitalisations.  The Minister said the decision was in the interest of safety.

The Minister also promised to get devices and internet to students in order for them to participate in learning during this virtual-only season.  The press conference on January 13, welcomed partners Flow, Digicel and the Pine Cay Project.

In her address, chair of the Pine Cay Project, Marie Landel, said that an urgent call from Dr. Carlton Mills, a member of their board of trustees revealed that about 750 students would be without internet connection and devices.

The Pine Cay Project responded to that information and has agreed to pay for internet for 30 days students, with its partner in the initiative, DigicelTCI.  It is an $18,000 investment in education continuity for hundreds of children.

“We had strong discussions on what we should do with the money that we collect every year, so yesterday we agreed to the funding in emergency situation of 300 internet connections and devices that are going to help the students in need, and we’re very proud to be able to act quickly,” Landel expressed.

Additionally, the Marketing Manager at Digicel TCI, Mr Drexler Smith, said Digicel has partnered with the Ministry of Education to provide about 1,000 tablets for public schools. Smith added that 75 MiFi devices valued at 7,000 dollars were provided; they come with free data services for up to three months for students in need.

Digicel has also created a special education plan for e-learning with specific zero-rated sites and applications. The company partnered with Pine Cay and other private entities in this regard. Various schools and educational facilities in South Caicos, Five Cays, and Providenciales have benefitted from laptops, data plans, MiFi’s, and e-learning kits.

Marketing Executive Flow TCI, Darron Hilaire, also shared the contributions Flow made to the education sector since the pandemic.

“Within the last three years, Flow TCI, through our charitable foundation, would have donated $130,000 worth of ICT equipment to 2 schools respectively in Grand Turk and in Providenciales for the outfitting of the new computer labs to help facilitate the ministry’s vision to foster an efficient e-learning environment for students,” he said.

Mr. Hilaire added that within the first year of the pandemic, Flow responded to requests from the Ministry to increase the bandwidth to public schools in the TCI. Hilaire said Flow home internet speed doubles automatically at no cost to its customers in early July.

He said that within the last 60 days, Flow TCI announced a recent donation of $25,000 dollars to two schools in North Caicos and one in Providenciales. The donation was in aid of increasing connectivity and infrastructural upgrades.

“As we come to the end of this phase of the project, our objective is to look at doing the same for other schools in the second phase of the projects to further arm our schools with the access to technology to provide the best quality education to students,” Hilaire added.

Amanyara Resort, not present at the press event, was said to be working on additional laptops for hundreds of children despite having already donated to several schools in Providenciales.

Minister Rachel Taylor and her team, including Eugene Grant, ICT Education Officer at the Ministry of Education and Mark Garland, Deputy Director of Education thanked the donors; they were labelled Platinum Partners by the Minister.

 

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Health

Government apologizes to Churches for NEW Covid-19 Testing rule

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#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – The TCI Government is apologizing for including the Church in a new raft of restrictions which mandates unvaccinated congregants be tested in order to be allowed to attend church events however, there is no change in the rule.  The rule is now delayed start for another two weeks following an announcement issued by the Ministry of Health on Thursday evening.

The apology came from Premier Washington Misick in a statement late Wednesday, where he apologized for bunching the church in with restaurants, lounges, bars and discotheques which also have to follow the regulation.

Church pastors speaking with Magnetic Media expressed shock at the announcement which was revealed, on Tuesday, as a cabinet approved decision which also includes mandatory testing for the unvaccinated to attend funerals.

While there has been no official statement from the Turks and Caicos Islands Christian Council or the Pastors Fraternity it was clear that some of the church community seemed prepared to stand firmly against the measure.

The Premier has promised that there will be consultation going forward; beckoning to Churches to comply with the temporary rule which he said would help to curb the latest surge of COVID-19 cases.

 

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Health

Cruising & Caring for Health and Wealth

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, January 15, 2022 – As the cruising industry in Grand Turk continues to get back into full swing with an anticipated four cruises or more per week, Turks and Caicos Islanders who work in the industry will again be interacting with thousands of foreign nationals on a weekly basis.

Normally this would be a cause for celebration and it is, but with the world in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and especially in light of the newest variant, the rules have changed.

As researchers find more information in regards to Omicron it is becoming increasingly clear that while the variant may be slightly milder than others its transmissibility is a major treat to populations, economies and health systems everywhere.

The following are tips that will help balance TCI tourism workers’ income and their safety, or as government often puts it, “lives and livelihoods”.

 

Prior Preparation.

Masks have become a part of life since the beginning of the pandemic, some wear them for safety, others because they are mandated. Nearly all of us have experienced that ‘oh no’ moment when we realize we’ve left our mask behind, it’s a funny anecdote to represent our new normal in theory.

In reality it can be dangerous, life threatening even, to be without protective measures especially for vendors who interact with international visitors all day long.

This means prior preparation is key. Outfit your stall with masks and the recommended cleaning agents, have extras on hand so you never get caught without. If possible put the required distance between your own stall and your neighbors. If possible create dividers for yourself and tourists that will allow you to interact safely. Place reminders in the form of signs around your stall so guests are not tempted to flout safety measures.

 

In the Moment

Cruise days can be hectic, there are so many people and so little time but as you rush to make your sales or braid hair it is important to keep safety protocols in mind.

Always maintain social distancing between yourself and guests, this is especially important in high volume situations like this as guests can be asymptomatic.

If you operate a business that will not allow you to do so e.g. hair braiding, keep your mask on at all times and insist that your guests do so as well.

Limit the amount of guests allowed in your space at once.

Establish rigorous and frequent cleaning protocols, as guests move around in their excitement they may forget to sanitize. Clean surfaces regularly with the recommended products to prevent lingering traces of anything dangerous.

 

Aftercare

When guests have departed and it’s time to close up shop don’t skip any steps that could undo a successful day of safe practices.

Wash your money, it may seem strange but bills are made from durable paper that is not susceptible to tearing or water-wear. Washing your bills and coins gently will not hurt them but will protect you from any lingering viruses. Clean regularly touched areas and items. Get tested regularly, that way if you do get infected you will be in the know early. If you feel ill, immediately self-isolate and test to confirm if you have COVID or not. Deep clean your stall regularly, disinfecting as many areas as you can.

Covid-19 has forced us into a new normal but Turks and Caicos Islanders are resilient, it is possible to balance safety and profit, remember to wash your hands and obey all the protocols so the TCI can come out of this Pandemic with as little losses as possible.

 

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