While claiming that the British Virgin Islands (BVI) “has not reached anywhere near the levels that other countries in the Caribbean are experiencing in terms of gun crimes”, Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews has noted that women in the BVI are also carrying illegal guns.
Persons usually caught with illegal firearms in their possession locally are men.
“I see the intelligence reports that are received that people know where firearms are [in the BVI]; people spot them; they see them with young men [and] young women sometimes. Sometimes they are found abandoned in storage – places where they had been put aside by offenders. I know that’s been going on fairly regularly here, and sometimes we are made aware. But we need more support. It isn’t just a policing issue; this is about society and our attitude towards what is acceptable and what isn’t,” he said.
“Therefore, public support in proclaiming their disgust with the types of crimes that are being committed; public support in tracking how firearms are coming into the territory; public support in identifying people who are openly carrying firearms on our streets; that is what is needed. It’s a requirement; it’s a society issue; it’s not just a policing issue; it’s a responsibility of society to police this and remove those illegal firearms out of the territory.”
So far this year, the BVI has recorded five murders – four of which resulted from gun attacks.
Nowhere near others
Despite gun crimes being a major issue for people in the BVI, Commissioner Matthews said the situation in other Caribbean countries is worse.
“I think that we all have to wake up and accept what I would describe as a creeping cancer that is in our society around gun crime. It’s prevalent across the Caribbean. Only three months ago I was in Aruba at a meeting with all of the Caribbean commissioners of police, and it is quite clear to me that this creeping cancer of gun crime is prevalent in all countries.”
“However, we are fortunate it hasn’t reached anywhere near the levels that other countries in the Caribbean are experiencing in terms of gun crimes – homicides, attacks, robberies involving guns.”
“That doesn’t mean that we can afford to relax about it or even accept one incident that involves a firearm,” Commissioner Matthews further said during an interview with ZBVI Radio News.
In relation to murders, he also made this comment: “It’s certainly very rare in my experience for anyone who commits the most serious of crimes – murder, to be somebody who has never been involved in trouble before. That’s certainly rare.”
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