A new piece of legislation on policing is being discussed to increase the powers of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.
This is according to Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews who said these policy adjustments will be vital in assisting police officers to effectively solve crimes.
“For example, at the moment, we can’t forcibly take DNA from people and, as you know, DNA is a very critical crime-detection tool especially in the most serious of places. The [revised] Act will provide for the taking of DNA by force, if necessary,” the top cop said on the Honestly Speaking with Claude Skelton Cline radio programme on Tuesday.
If implemented, the new policy will also see police being granted the ability to detain suspects for up to 92 hours in the most serious of cases.
“One of the biggest frustrations we [currently] have, especially in the most serious of crimes, is we can only hold somebody for 24 hours without charge. The average situation is; you get somebody arrested late at night, then they’re allowed to sleep all night and then you get to talk to them first thing in the morning. The clock is ticking already and then they give you an alibi that you want to then check out before releasing them. And sometimes we have to release people before we can thoroughly check out an alibi because the person they’re naming and says they were with, might not be in the territory that day,” Commissioner Matthews explained.
He said he, therefore, believes increasing the detention limit will allow his officers to properly carry out investigations into more serious crime.
The top cop said the new policy adjustments are now being discussed at the Cabinet-level.
“I hope it will reach the House of Assembly eventually for the debate and I hope the members of the House of Assembly will see fit to push through that legislation which will frankly modernise the way we do business in the territory,” Matthews said.
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