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National Security Row as Oswald Skippings takes on Trevor Botting

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicosIslands, October 9, 2023 – Trevor Botting, Turks and Caicos Islands outgoing Police Commissioner found himself at the start of the week, rejecting claims that his leadership has ‘damaged’ the Police Force. He penned a lengthy response to what he describes as ‘factually incorrect’ statement from Oswald Skippings, former Chief Minister of the Turks and Caicos.

“It is unfortunate that Mr Skippings did not take the time to establish the facts before publication, but I am happy to put the record straight,” said Botting in his own release.

The response came on Monday October 2. It was aiming to rebuff assertions by the outspoken Skippings, who said the Marine Branch, Airwing and police sub-stations in Blue Hills, Salt Cay, Middle Caicos and Five Cays were shut down by Botting.

Skipping in the piece, featured in the Turks and Caicos Weekly News, called for the re-establishment of the institutions that were “deliberately dismantled by the Governor and Commissioner of Police and allowed by the elected government without a public outcry or any form of parliamentary or other opposition.”

But Botting, who is also the former TCI Deputy Commissioner of Police position laid most of the responsibility for these actions at the feet of his predecessor including the purchase of an aircraft unfit for use in the Turks and Caicos, and the closure of the Five Cays, Salt Cay and Middle Caicos stations.

“With respect to the RTCIPF Airwing, when I assumed the role of Commissioner, I undertook a review of the regulatory structure of the RTCIPF Airwing and found that it did not comply with local and international regulations and further funding was required to modernise the structure and bring the Unit in line with international and national requirements. The funding has taken time to be put in place, along with the recruitment of additional staff to meet the requirements and work is underway now, with the TCI CAA regulator, to apply for the Air Operators Certificate. Whilst Mr Skippings suggests that I tried to ‘frustrate and fire’ staff from the RTCIPF Airwing, this is simply not the case, and the staff that were in place when I took over as the Commissioner, remain in place today. Indeed, the objective was to add additional staff which has been done. We are now in a strong position to obtain our Air Operators Certificate.”

He also highlighted what he had done, including the closure of the Blue Hills police station that he says barely anyone visited; the hiring and training of Turks and Caicos Islanders at senior levels in the force; resale of said unfit aircraft; upgrading of Air Wing staff; and restoration of police presence to Salt Cay. The commissioner also mentioned longtime projects that were still dragging on, including the restoration of the Grand Turk Marine Branch.

“Rather than the Police Force being damaged by me as their Commissioner, it is firmly my view that the Force is in good shape to meet the demands placed on it,” Botting said in response to the scathing review by Skippings.

There was one thing that the two saw eye to eye on, a necessary increase in officers.

“I do agree with Mr. Skippings that the Force needs to continue to grow to meet the shifting and ever-more complex demands of Policing. As an aside, I would also fully support the increase in the capacity of our colleagues in Immigration,” Botting maintained.

Caribbean News

Police De-Briefing with TCI Governor Daniel-Selvaratnam

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#TurksandCaicos#Anti-Crime, February 23rd, 2024 – De-briefing Acting Commissioner of Police Christopher Eyre held a meeting with Her Excellency the Governor Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam and Member of Parliament for Grand Turk North, the Hon. Otis Morris, today (February 21st ) at Police Headquarters, Airport Road, Providenciales.

The debriefing was to discuss concerns raised by residents during last evening’s Anti-Crime Town Hall meeting at the H.J Robinson High School, Grand Turk. Commissioner Eyre expressed his deep appreciation to Her Excellency and Hon Morris for their attendance, saying that work was already underway to address the community concerns.

Commissioner Eyre said: “I acknowledge the challenges raised and wish to assure you that the Executive of the RTCIPF remains steadfast in ensuring the TCI is safe. We listened to your concerns, and I assure you that rebuilding trust and strengthening community-policing relations are top priorities.“

The RTCIPF has taken a holistic approach in the fight against crime. Increased visibility, greater stakeholder collaborations and ongoing dialogue forums to appraise you will occur. We are accountable to you.”

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Caribbean News

Too much secrecy with Airport Tax increase says former Deputy Premier Sean Astwood

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicos#Tax, February 23rd, 2024 – “The TCIAA should not be allowed to announce and implement new or increased taxes or fees in this already difficult financial climate without more details,” says Sean Astwood, Former Deputy Premier regarding the increase in the  Airport Development Fee from $20 to $35 describing the increase as not proactive but premature.

Astwood said there were a number of questions that he believed every Turks and Caicos Islander should ask and have the right to know the answers to including ‘Why now?’

The Opposition PDM member pointed out that only one airport has international flights and it would soon undergo a change in structure, paired with the ‘unexplainable’ delay in the completion of the airport in South Caicos and the possibility of ongoing negotiations in relation to the one in North Caicos, he queried: ‘Why not wait to see what amount or step may be needed in facilitating services in these Airports before a hike in fees?’

“In this climate, taxpayers must have more information and the benefit of a complete picture from not just the TCIAA Chiefs but from the Premier himself. The people must know what the current earnings of the TCIAA is; how has the management of the Airports increased to warrant such a large increase; how much does it cost to operate all of these airports; what is the estimated increase in revenue and how will these monies be used,” the former DP said.

He also questioned the avalanche of resignations that had recently affected the TCIAA

“I have serious concerns with the Premier’s oversight of this matter knowing that the TCIAA is no doubt experiencing a major problem with the vast number of Turks and Caicos Islanders resigning from their positions including high level positions. This alone requires a more in-depth investigation.”

Astwood also demanded information about the ongoing canopy project at the Providenciales/Howard Hamilton International which should have been completed in less than six months but was running on two years.

“TCIAA has quickly developed a reputation for big spending recently and stalled projects. We need answers as taxpayers. Why now? How much do you intend to raise? How will it be used? The people deserve a response. In a “proactive” step, this information must be provided to the public before this increase is implemented,” he ended.

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Caribbean News

Justice system instructed to improve coordination 

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Dana Malcolm
Staff Writer 

#TurksandCaicos#Violence, February 23rd, 2024 – Violence exploded in the Turks and Caicos between January 26 and February 2nd, and with signs pointing to the involvement of recently released convicts the National Security Council is on a mission to reduce the risk of flare ups when offenders rejoin society.

The Police Force, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and other criminal Justice partners have now been instructed to review how they coordinate with each other and complete their specific roles to support case progression. Assessments about public safety in respect to offenders during bail hearings are also to be given keen attention.

The NSC is also planning to engage with the Judiciary as part of this review to help with delivering verdicts in a timely manner,

Called after the January 26 killing in Grand Turk which allegedly involved a former inmate, the meeting gathered law enforcement and other partners so that the NSC could get a sense of how effectively they were working with each other to ‘secure criminal justice outcomes.’

“The NSC— sought briefings on the effectiveness of liaison between the RTCIPF, the office of the DPP and wider criminal justice agencies in respect of case progression, including the assessments made to public safety that inform representations at bail hearings,” a statement revealed.

The information detailing the January 30th NSC meeting was released on February 2nd.

With senior leadership from the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF), the TCI Regiment, TCI Border Force, HMP and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the room, the NSC looked into two incidents involving recently released inmates.

Two days after the meeting the NSC chairs had to be briefed again about another incident involving a former inmate where two men were left dead on February 1.

The Council headed jointly by Washington Misick, TCI Premier and Dileeni Daniel Selvaratnam, TCI Governor says the risk reduction strategies discussed in the meeting NSC will seek to address HMP exit arrangements and risks to public safety.

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