BVI News


Governor forces gov’t to give police more money

Governor John Duncan. File photo

Governor John Duncan. File photo

Governor John Duncan has exercised his constitutional powers, and has forced the Government to allocate more funding to the Royal Virgin Islands Force (RVIPF).

The RVIPF will receive roughly an additional $800,000 to its budget for this financial year, which will take effect within the next 24 hours.

The governor has oversight responsibility for the RVIPF, which is funded by the BVI government.

He told journalists at an emergency press briefing at the Central Administration Complex this afternoon (March 16) that the additional funds will go primarily towards acquiring for equipment for the RVIPF.

Governor Duncan’s action comes after years of complaint that the British Virgin Islands government has not been funding the police adequately.

The matter usually rises to the fore whenever there is a spike in serious crimes such as gun robberies and murders. Since the start of this year, for example, three persons have been murdered in different incidents. Two of them were found murdered last week Friday.

The average number of people murdered in the territory annually is about three.

The current crime rate has weighed heavily on the governor’s decision to exercise his powers under the Virgin Islands Constitution.

“We are facing serious challenges in criminality. We have a good commissioner of police who needs our support, and therefore I am invoking Section 103 of the Constitution, which allows the governor to authorize that expenditure,” Governor Duncan today told journalists.

He noted that he took no joy in forcing the government’s hand, but it had to be done.

“It is with great regret to me that I have had to do this, because I have supported the territory in many of the debates against things the United Kingdom wanted to do – like the public register [in relation to financial services]…”

“I’ve maintained consistently that it is for the territory to take responsibility – not for the governor to intervene. But, in the current circumstances, it is with great regret that I had to invoke Section 103, and I will be doing that in the next 24 hours,” added Governor Duncan who also chairs the Nation Security Council.

Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews

Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews

Meanwhile, during the recently concluded Standing Finance Committee of the House of Assembly, Commissioner Michael Matthews stated that he inherited a budget of $15.3 million, when he assumed office on April 10, 2016.

Of that amount he inherited, $13.3 million was for emoluments, and the remaining $2 million was for managing the RVIPF operationally.

The commissioner further stated that, over the past four years, the budget for policing had been reduced.

He explained that the operational funding for the year 2017 was lower than that of 2012, and equated to a 37 percent reduction to the operational element of the budget.

Also, in January this year, then Opposition leader Julian Fraser suggested that the government has not been funding the RVIPF properly because it does not control the law-enforcement organization.

Fraser later reasoned: “If you look at the 2017 budget, the police have now received $16.136 million. Of that, only $2.3 million has been left for the operation. If I go back to 2006, the police only had about $2.5 million for operational purposes. So, you are looking at 11 years since. How do you explain that your operational funding [for the RVIPF] is the same as it was 11 years before?”

“That’s the trend I am talking about, because the total budget [for the RVIPF] has grown to $16 million [this year] over $10.8 million in 2006. So, they got basically $6 million in the total budget, but the operational part of it has not changed. That trend is constant within the territory budgetarily,” Fraser further said during the recent budget debate in the House of Assembly.

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  1. King Kunta says:

    There isnt a whole lot this Governor has done early on that I agreed with, BUT I will give jack his jacket…calling out the politicians in his speech at the prison AND now this forced funding for the police are both things I support 10000000000%

    While the Premier continues to do his political spin for familys suffering the ill effects of violence, while on the other hand GUTTING the police budget, along comes Duncan to give them some of the funds they need. BRAVO!

    Premier you should be embarrassed! but then again if you not ashamed to this point by the corruption and ineptitude……

  2. It's About Time says:

    Good move Governor. Why did you wait sooo late to start hearing the cries of the people?

  3. Just Wrong says:

    YES !!!! BRAVO !!! But not sure $800,000 is enough.

    What is that compared to the proposed foolishness of the Airport extension, to say nothing of “the wall”.

    • ??? says:

      I guess the government, wants us to jump and hide behind the high school million dollar wall when the shots start firing by the Sunday morning well.

      What is wrong with us….. Money for walls not class rooms and supplies, money for pier parks not ambulances, money for bvi airways not police…

      What a disaster and laughing stock we are becoming

    • Cameron says:

      Govt can’t take back handers on police budgets but airport or cruise ship projects……!?!

  4. Reply says:

    The RVIPF has been underfunded for quite some time over multiple governments headed by both major political parties.

    At a time when crime was increasing, the RVIPF operating budget was being cut…and people were wondering why the increase in criminal acts. That was a mistake and counterproductive to tackling escalating crime.

    Good the Governor stepped in and addressed this matter. Now, my only hope is that the RVIPF upgrade their forensic crime solving ability with some of that money, and put more officers on street patrol.

    I have driven around Tortola at various times of the day and night, and over a weeks time, I never felt or saw a police presence from East to West, or in the hills. Thats not good.

    In a society where many are deaf and blind to criminal activity, utilizing forensic science becomes more important so again, I trust the RVIPF use some of that money to strenthen their forensic capabilities.

    I for one could never understand why our leaders appear to have not made the important connection between escalating crime and its negative impact on the critical tourism sector.

    In this day and age of terrorism, people who take vacations are looking for safe places to travel. They are avoiding places where there are frequent reports of crime or where there is an increases risk of terrorist acts.

    Thankfully, we are not experiencing the later, but we have our fair share of criminal acts that needs to be clamped down on. This caanot be done on a shie string budget.

    So kudos to the Governor for doing his part.

  5. Lard ass says:

    Shame on you NDP, I hope you take a moment of shame to thank the governor for your failings.

    What’s next on your list John, Freedom of information act?

  6. Constitution says:

    Wow! Now we know who really run tings. Checks and balances you say? Yup, that’s how it works. Our elected leaders on both sides were just given a lesson in civics…..drop the mic.

  7. watcher says:

    He needs to do more of things like this because our “leaders” are not spending our money where it should be spent

  8. Hah says:

    Dr. O’Lorna Smith has been a terrible leader especially during this term.

  9. Devon Osborne says:

    Congratulations to His Excellency The Governor John Duncan for exercising his executive order under section 103 of the Virgin Islands Constitution.

    It is crystal clear that the priorities of Dr. Orlando Smith and his NDP government is NOT by any means living up to the expectations of the people of this territory even when our national security is at stake crying for help.

    Crime has infested our little nation and an over budgeted pier project with most of the money vanishing with no accountability and now a proposed airport expansion project even boasted by his first lady is on deck while Premier Dr. Orlando Smith see it fit to so call invest seven million ($7,000,000.00) of the people tax paying dollars in a foreign airline while the country is in turmoil in all aspects.

    His manipulating words are “The economy is robust,” which was and continue to be echoed by some of his supporting Ministers of cabinet but not robust enough to threaten the national security of our little nation. Not robust enough to put toilet paper and other utilities in our schools, not robust enough to fix our roads where approximately fifteen million has already been spent.

    Not robust enough to pay our civil servants including our teachers their salary increments for over 5 years, not robust enough to foot the bill of the national health insurance scheme and we are getting sued left, right, and center costing us millions of dollars in lost cases.

    I can go on and on but will leave it here for now.

    As our great Hon. Leader of the Opposition rightly stated, “It is time to take back our government and put it back into the hands of the people.”

    I am Devon Osborne and I approve this message!

  10. Two thumbs up says:

    Governor, you not easy. Let’s hope the money is put to good use and not up in somebody pocket

  11. lol says:

    About time John light a fire under our elected stealers

  12. Devon Osborne says:

    The Premier response statement is just damage control and irrelevant to the fact since he and his government just passed a budget which includes a projected figure for our national security and His Excellency the Governor is clearly saying that what you projected is NOT ENOUGH Mr. Premier so I am taking this amount.

    In my opinion he did so since the Premier and his government is taking our national security for granted while funneling the citizens and residents tax paying dollars to areas of less priority.

    I am foreseeing that if this crazy trend continues by this government, His Excellency the Governor next move could be asking the UK to implement direct rule on us until we can get it RIGHT which would be a slap in our faces for not being able to handle our own affairs efficiently.

  13. Shocked says:

    Great job Gov,now we need you to push through the audit for the Tortola Pier Park please.

    Vanterpool bawling his not a thief ok sir then allow the audit for the Pier Park. Gov,get em before they get away with it.

  14. Long live the Queen! says:

    So much for a ceremonial post when it comes to humanity!

    Crime has no place in the world. It should be fought with all our might. Nip it before it gets worst. Thank you Governor thank you.

    If you feel good in your heart that you did the right thing then make no apology.

    We all desire to feel a little safer and if this $800,000 will move us closer to safety then thank you Governor thank you.

    I hope you are reading this as it’s the greatest gift you’ve given this country since you came to our shores.

  15. concerned says:

    Doc & Doc cannot seem to understand, just as the democrats did not understand the common man in the USA. Governor is UK version of Trump!!

    Time the police were funded, then the fire dept., then the roads, then replace East End sewer money….

    How about all those audits that are due? The special Pier Park/pier audit?? Transparency? Not til the U.K. takes over.

  16. Political Observer says:

    Undoubtedly, crime, especially violent gun crimes, are skyrocketing and need to be arrested.

    But the move, though permitted under the constitution, by Guv John Duncan is imperialist/colonialist, selected action and interference in local politics.

    It was a pimp slap in the face of the NDP government that was similar to the off topic comment at Her Majesty’s prison about a month ago.

    The Governor is very selective in his actions, taking care of his boys. Prior to the 08 June 2015 general election, the Guv conveniently stayed out local politics by denying the Opposition request for a Commission of Inquiry on the Tortola Pier Park project.

    Further, there are other services that are unfunded like law enforcement, i.e. sewage collection/treatment/disposal……….etc but the Guv is as silent as a church mouse. Moreover, an annual financial audit has not been laid on the table at HOA for over a decade but nary a word from the Guv.

    Moreover, I’m not an advocate for independence but the VI need to move with Usain Bolt speed for constitutional changes to give it more autonomy in its affairs. That said, constitutional changes achieved, the electorate must stay engaged to hold government feet to the fire.

    Additionally, I’m not averse to increasing funding for the RVIPF. However, too often we throw money at a problem and often times money is not the core issue.

    Has the RVIPF demonstrated optimum use of the resources allotted? For example after dark, police presence on the streets is scarcer than gold at Fallen Jerusalem.

    Sitting at a desk waiting for a call or a visit is not the only action that should be going on. Police needs to be on mobile patrol 364/24/7. Criminals should always be on edge that cops are just around the corner. The element of surprise is valuable police action. Police presence deter crime.

    Moreover, there are no Pilates on this funding and crime issue. Government has the responsibility to commensurately fund law enforcement relatively to other needs. Of course, government will advocate that money is allocated based on competitive needs.

    Every agency will declare that their organization is highly critical and additional funding is needed. Thus, government must allocate funding based on competiting priority.

    Grossly overdue, government needs to release all the financial audits so that there is transparency on where the territory is financially.

  17. Let's be honest... says:

    … giving the RVIPF more funding is going to help community relations how exactly?

    Because isn’t that one of the major issues? A total lack of trust between the community and the police.

  18. Freedom of speech is sacred! says:

    The H>N’s are out in full inanity on this one.

  19. . says:

    Many of these comments above worry me.

    We elect a set of leaders who have the responsibility of spending our hard earned tax dollars.

    Then this man who is NOT elected by the people, and has NO ACCOUNTABILITY to the people, comes and dictates to the democratically elected leadership of this country how to spend OUR MONEY.

    Even when the Queen disagrees with their positions, you think she would ever overturn the decision of a democratically elected Parliament in England? Never!

    So why he think he could come here and do it? Is it because our Parliament is Black and he is White? Coz that’s the ONLY difference I see. 😒

    The Governor should have secured some funding from the U.K. to get the police more money, as he and the government are both responsible for the police force.

    But you don’t waltz in here like some all-powerful dictator and overturn the decision of a DEMOCRATICALLY elected government.

    This is Ludicrous!

    This I would be willing to march against. No matter which Government he does this too, because this is an attack on the very heart of our democracy.

  20. View from UK friend says:

    As a former retired UK Officer with the RVIPF who has a great admiration for the brave Officers of this Police Force, the intervention of Gov.Duncan is a welcome but also sad affair.
    For many years a spotlight has been required to investigate the costly projects where Government money has been wasted or even worse.
    Until proper transparent financial audits are in place, and Laws are amended to deter corruption and theft, then the precarious financial position of the BVI will continue.
    Despite comments to the contrary the RVIPF still needs a helping hand to operate in such a testing environment where politics, fear, money, and relationships impact so much.
    I hope that through the provision of additional resources, training and mentoring, that the RVIPF will be able to stand strong and proud in these difficult times. If welcome, my cv will be in the post.

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