Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
The Royal Virgin Islands Police Force continues to wrestle with lack of adequate equipment and manpower to fight crime. In 2015, the force hired 13 new police officers, but this was not enough.
"...Their recruitment has made a little difference to the actual numbers on the streets because abstractions, interdiction, retirements, absences and vacancies far outstrip available personnel," the last report produced by the force and recently made public stated.
The force has been criticized for not conducting regular vehicle and foot patrols.
In the 2015 annual report, the force noted that the Command Team at Police Headquarters continued the Tortola Patrol Plan, which required managers to submit staffing levels daily, accounting for absences and examining potential trends in absenteeism.
"This allowed for a more robust assessment of available resources and for sanctions to be brought on supervisors who failed to manage effectively."
In addition, the report noted that this process gives strong support to the need for immediate investment in personnel, as each new abstraction, such as additional driver duties for VIPs, large scale conferencing involving Heads of State and the increased cruise ship passenger footfall, which creates its own strain on resources.
Further, the compulsory daily staffing report introduced to support the Tortola Patrol Plan in quarter 4 of 2014 has now addressed sickness absence record keeping problems and has shone a light on customs and practices within the organization, allowing poor attendance among the tiny number of front-line officers who abuse the system, to be addressed.
Meanwhile, the report noted that the Immediate Response Unit, formerly the Task Force, provides armed response and specialist skills to supplement the Beat and Patrol function. However, the lack of a properly functional vehicle equipped to specialist standards, severely hampers the units efficacy.
"In an ideal world, the unit would have a vehicle equipped to armed response standard, with bulletproof panels and other enhancement."
The report stated that notwithstanding the stresses on staffing levels, the unit performed well in 2015, arresting a total of 18 persons for drugs and firearms. Additionally, 81 vehicles and 525 persons were searched during hot spots disruption.
Large quantities of drugs were removed from the streets during operations, and also guns and ammunition.