REPORT SUBMITTED BY WILLANDRA ELLIOTT
On Friday, 19th June 2020 at 5:00pm, His Excellency The Governor Nigel Dakin (responsible for national security and boarder control) met with Ms. Willandra Elliott at the Governor’s Office in Providenciales. The meeting specifically addressed core issues regarding the surge in crime and gun violence.
According to Ms. Elliott, H.E. Governor Dakin confirmed that he assumed his post within the Turks & Caicos Islands approximately eleven months ago, and within one month of his arrival, Mr. Trevor Botting, current Commissioner of Police, arrived. From 8th April 2019 throughout 19th June 2020, a total of 24 murders had been reported. Of these, 23 murders were committed with the use of firearm, 92% of victims being males, and 40% of murders believed to be gang related. Ms. Elliott commented, “This is a clear indication of the magnitude of gun violence and its adverse impact on our country.”
H.E. Governor Dakin confirmed that Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson’s 12-point crime plan was derived from the Bermuda and Glasgow models of the Crime and Violence Reduction Strategy. However, it is assumed that the plan will take approximately ten years to reap the expected benefits. Ms. Elliott then conveyed the dire need for a Crime and Violence Reduction Strategy that would begin to reap immediate results as many families are losing loved ones often, and on a far-too-regular basis due to violent crimes.
H.E. Governor Dakin raised the point that a total of twenty-seven police officers recently completed training, and will return upon the opening of the boarders. These officers received training in the areas of basic operations such as administration and investigation, which is intended to strengthen the intelligence operations of the Royal Turks & Caicos Islands Police Force. In responding to this, Ms. Elliott mentioned that educating our police officers represents only half the battle as the relationship between the police and community has been strained for quite some time, and requires strengthening as well. Ms. Elliott further explained that ensuring reinstatement of all community police stations and keeping confidentiality regarding witness protection and tips in the highest of confidence could positively reinforce this relationship. In this regard, H.E. Governor Dakin recommended the use of the Crime Stoppers hotline.
Ms. Elliott also addressed the lack of adequate compensation for police officers. H.E. Governor Dakin acknowledged, in defense of the current payroll, that police officers receive additional benefits separate and apart from salaries. Theses benefits were not identified.
Matters regarding the prison, its expansion, and rehabilitation of the prisoners were also examined. H.E. Governor Nigel Dakin confirmed that the “Yellow Wing’ of the prison which currently and mostly houses inmates convicted of murder has been tendered, and rebuilding will commence in the near future. He also indicated that there is additional Crown Land surrounding the prison, which makes expansion very possible. In light of prisoners often being prematurely released due to inadequate facilities and overcrowding, Ms. Elliott queried the reason for delay in the expansion of the prison, and went on to say, “Rehabilitation of prisoners should also be at the forefront to ensure that these persons are able to integrate into society with an easy transition and to enable them to make positive contributions to our society.”
Ms. Elliott also queried the purpose of the United Kingdom Armed Forces within the Turks & Caicos Islands and their current roles. H.E. Governor Dakin’s response was that troops of the Royal Marines are working with the Maritime Police to increase manpower as it pertains to boarder protection, including work to improve command, control and communication systems so as to achieve faster responses. Members of the medical team are working with the Turks & Caicos Islands health team to plan and support the public healthcare capacity of the country. The logistics team is responsible for bringing in health supplies from a Royal Naval Task Force located within our region. H.E. Governor Dakin also indicated that ongoing assistance is given to the Department of Disaster Management and Emergencies (DDME) to help the country better cope with both the current COVD-19 pandemic and the 2020 hurricane season. Data concerning post Irma and Maria Hurricanes were reviewed to assist with risk management planning and tabletop operations. Ongoing works are being done to interisland communication plans.
Ms. Elliott remains mindful that “the Queen” has appointed both H.E. Governor Nigel Dakin and Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting. “It is my personal view that, respectfully, the aforementioned gentlemen do not truly understand the plight of our people. After time served, they will return to their respective countries and we, the people, will still have to endure the adverse effects of our rapidly increasing crime rate, in particular gun violence, unsolved crimes and boarders that are ineffectively protected. It is time to stand in solidarity in our efforts to restore our beautiful by nature and peaceful by choice Turks & Caicos Islands, and make our voices heard. I am hereby prepared to be the essence of eccentricity, even if it means standing alone. Turks & Caicos Stand Up, Speak Up and Stay Woke!”