BVI News

Cops might get powers to take DNA by force, detain suspects for days without charge

Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews

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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37 Comments

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  1. Wow says:

    In this day and age this is going on in the world. I didn’t know it wasn’t a law . No wonder so many crimes going on unsolved. I’m with you on this it need to look into immediately.

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  2. strupes says:

    COMMUNISM

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  3. A Better BVI says:

    1. How will peoples’s DNA be handled?
    2. What if you are acquitted or no longer a
    suspect in a case? What happens to your DNA
    then?
    3. Is DNA currently stored in a database and
    will it be stored in a database with this
    proposed law?
    4. Will innocent people’s DNA be stored in a
    database if there is one?

    UK home secretary apologizes to migrants forced to take DNA test:
    https://www.ft.com/content/d6679ca4-d84f-11e8-ab8e-6be0dcf18713

    In the U.K.
    What powers do the police have to take a DNA sample?

    It has always been open to a person to volunteer a sample of their DNA for identification purposes, eg to allow them to be eliminated as a suspect in police investigations.

    The source of the police power to take DNA samples from individuals in custody originates in section 63A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. However, until the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001, it was unlawful for the police to retain those samples where an individual was subsequently acquitted or the charges discontinued. The 2001 Act allowed police to retain DNA samples of persons charged with offences, even after their acquittal. However, such samples could only be used subsequently by the police ‘for purposes related to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence or the conduct of a prosecution’.

    Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the police now have the power to take and retain a DNA sample of any person arrested for any recordable offence, regardless of whether they are even charged or, if charged, subsequently acquitted.

    This has led to the establishment and development of the National DNA Database (NDNAD, also known as the National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database), which now has DNA samples from more than 3.5 million people, including over half a million samples from children under the age of 16. There are also concerns that persons from ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in the numbers of DNA samples held. Given the extensive powers that the police have to take and retain DNA samples from suspects (and former suspects), the NDNAD has become the largest forensic DNA database in the world.

    Why is DNA retention a human rights issue?

    Because each DNA sample contains massive amounts of personal information about an individual. Accordingly, the retention of DNA samples raises major implications for the protection of individual privacy, particularly the confidentiality of medical information.

    With traditional forms of biometric identification, such as fingerprints, retention does not raise significant privacy concerns. This is because fingerprints are virtually useless for anything else besides identification.

    By contrast, retaining a sample of a person’s DNA means that the holder of the sample could use it to uncover a very broad range of potentially intimate medical and genetic information about that person, eg whether they carry the genetic marker for diseases such as Parkinson’s, or their susceptibility to heart disease. Indeed, because medical knowledge of the human genetic code is constantly expanding, it is not yet known the full extent of information that may be obtained from a DNA sample.

    The police, however, maintain that access to and use of DNA samples stored for the purposes of the database is strictly regulated and attended by stringent safeguards.

    Has anyone challenged the police retention of DNA samples?

    Yes. In R v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police ex parte S and Marper(([2004] UKHL 3)) the House of Lords heard a challenge from two individuals who had been arrested and had DNA samples taken. Following the 2001 Act, their samples were kept on the database even though they were never convicted of any criminal offence.

    The appellants in Marper argued that, although retention of a DNA sample could be justified where a person had been convicted of a serious criminal offence (and could arguably be considered a suspect in the investigation of future offences), the policy of retaining DNA samples of those who had not been convicted was an unjustified and disproportionate interference with their right to respect for their private life under Article 8 ECHR.

    Unfortunately, the Law Lords rejected the challenge on the basis that mere retention of a person’s samples did not constitute an interference with the right to privacy under Article 8. This was an especially surprising conclusion, given the increasing potential for other government bodies and, indeed, other law enforcement agencies throughout the EU to gain access to the database. The very knowledge that someone else holds highly personal information about you – however strong the safeguards against its misuse – seems an obvious interference with privacy, even if the interference can ultimately be justified on other grounds. The matter is now on appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

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  4. wize up says:

    just a question: what the commissioner wants to implement is it applicable in United Kingdom: the presence of the police is needed more throughout our villages: the police have a duty to prevent crime not only show in large number after the crime was committed: after the department of police takes a persons DNA what prevents that department framing that suspect: it is alleged that large sums of money have been taken at crimes scenes thereafter such evidence(the cash) and it whereabouts became questionable; as a matter of fact issues were before the court of law in which staff members under the commissioner of police were criminally charged….have not one thing against law enforcement(the police needs to be more visible throughout the public therefore sending a message to those criminals(22 square miles!!!!!) not the city of London

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  5. Vg man says:

    How about training your officers to not be so greedy and corrupt stop stealing drugs. Especially those in vg

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  6. police state?? says:

    what the hell, are we going to do this? why do we give away all our liberties? you want my DNA “Court Order”

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  7. Eagle eye says:

    Y’all want to take DNA by force.can the suspect’s force y’all to witness the testing to.police do people so much wrong its a shame.

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  8. Ok Sir says:

    Make it so some of the same DIRTY COPS ON THE FORCE HAVE TO GIVE UP THEIR DNA OR TAKE LIE DETECTOR TEST. COMISH, not all your cops are DIRTY but a lot of them are. They rob and take the weed sellers weed and money, they tip certain people off for a fee and they drop potential witness names. That is why people is afraid or don’t want to say anything. You can’t get mad and fustrated when people don’t say anything, they are Just trying to extend themselves and their family lives a day longer.

    Like 23
    • Don't forget says:

      They the crocked cops also set things up to pit the drug sellers against each other so they can take each other out ie… Make it look like someone took another one stash and there goes the beef and war.

  9. Wow says:

    This is a very slippery slope. Nobody is going to force me to give any DNA, I’m sorry!

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  10. Anonymous says:

    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……..Commissioner Matthews explained.

    You interrogate as you bring them in….das BS…they’re allowed to sleep??? C’mon. Who train these law enforcers? Oh, i forget, they sleep as well.

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  11. hmmm says:

    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……..Commissioner Matthews explained.

    You interrogate as you bring them in….das BS…they’re allowed to sleep??? C’mon. Who train these law enforcers? Oh, i forget, they sleep as well.

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    • @hmmmm says:

      There you have it from the Commish himself why crime is not being solved in this country and what do they do? they want to take away our rights because they not doing their jobs or not doing it properly. Lord have mercy on us here in this lil country.

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  12. Proud bvi girl says:

    While your changing comm stop employing expatriates I heard one on vg saying we bvislanders are dumb

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    • Obviously says:

      Well an exorbitant amount of people here are idiots, and most of them are local so that statement definitely rings true.

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    • hmm says:

      I’ve been here for about 2 years and sadly the officer has a point. 2 in every 4 persons i’ve encountered either lacking common sense or book sense. But hey, who am I to point it out?

  13. TON LOAD OF NONSENSE says:

    Is BVI becoming a police state? Major world cities are able to solve heinous crimes without having to forcibly take DNA from people. This is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and BVI People need to rise up against this and let this voices be heard. This territory is too small…crimes are not being solved because some members for the force are allegedly corrupt. Some of the criminals are known…look at drugs in this country…you don’t think the police know who are the drug pushers…but because of who related to who and all that small island nonsense alot of crime gets pushed under the rug. This territory is too small…there is NO justification for an invasion of someone constitutional rights…are we going back to the days of Hitler? And for the Commissioner to say that oh if you arrest a man at night you can’t do your job until morning after he sleep..that’s NONSENSE…the police can do their full jobs from the time of arrest…THIS IS NOT NEEDED in this territory. NOT NEEDED!!! First they started with the prisoners forcibly taking DNA samples now they gone to regular citizens that have the presumption of innocence. SMH…a wittingly away of rights in this territory…

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  14. Police State says:

    So the police can tap your phone without a Court Order…they can take DNA sample from prisoners and now they want to forcibly take it from the general population. Why do we have to following everything America did…it came into a America by a divided Supreme Court ruling of 5 to 4…where a prominent Supreme Court Judge, Judge Scalia rejected the legality of this action. Now BVI wants to introduce statute to do it? I tell you the Premier needs to bell this cat!! not for BVI, not now!!

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  15. Mic Check says:

    Long overdue.

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  16. The Future says:

    I disagree with this. I’ve watched “When they see us”. This should not go through. We need to protect the people of our territory especially our young men. The police force needs to work on training detectives to solve crimes.

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  17. Johnson says:

    As one writer above said, “this is a slippery slope”. What is next in the name of crime fighting? Police can enter your house day or night without a warrant or court order? When does it end. I do not want to live in a police state.

    I can see holding a suspect for 48 hours but not 92. Most serious cases are solved in the first 48 hours. After that the trail starts getting cold. Again, what comes next. Can the police hold you indefinitely without a charge?

    As to DNA, yes it is a very valuable tool but not one to be used indiscriminately or for political gain. What is wrong with requiting a court order? Lets not make this country into another”banana republic.”

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  18. You crazy says:

    That is illigal and wrong if this past i can see crime against police will increase as police will now abuse their authority. By force wow this Commissioner cleary has lost his head and what will give you the right to hold persons of interest for days. The law need to show a due course and shitting over the ppl rights isnt the qay or road you should go down. I dont have faith in this country legal system as the GOV law chambers pass bullshit laws all the time bunch of educated jackass who believe they can do as they feel. I for obe know that the police need to get their fact straight before detaining ppl with out evidence to their guilt. Mr. MATTHEW THAT POWER YOUR SEEKING IN INJUST AND IS AN ILEGAL ATTRACK ON PERSON RIGHTS. IF YOU OFFICER GETTING BEAT THEY JUST GOT BEAT AND BY BEAT I MEAN IF THEM DETAIN PERAON FOR 48 HRS AND DIDNT FIND WHAT THEY NEED TO TO BUILD THEIR CASE WHAT MEAN YOU THINK HOLDING PERSONS LONGER WILL HELP THEM
    COP ARE THE WORLDS MOST MISGUIDED BUNCH OF PPL SOLEY CAUSE THEY WALK WITH THEIR HEADS UP THE CLOUD THEY FORGET SIMPLE THINGS CRIME IS A BUSINESS YOU CAME STOP IT YOU THINK YOU HAVE THE BLUE PRINT TO CURVE CRIME BUT THE CRIMINALS HAS THE FINE PRINT TO ADVOID DETAINMENT. I SAY THAT TO SAY THIS YOUR PLANS WILL NOT WORK IT WILL ONLY CAUSE MORE PROBLEMS FOR YOUR POLICE FORCE AS YOU PLAN THE CRIMINALS PLANNING TO AND THE ONES YOU WORKING FOR WILL HELP THE CRIMINALS GET AWAY WITH CRIMES. ITS LIKE YOU BUILD A SHELTER THAT STILL CAME SHELTER YOU. 10 YEARS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT HAS SHOWN ME THAT TO CATCH A CROOK YOU HAS TO THINK LIKE A CROOK NO PLAN IS PREFECT UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT IS NEEDED TO EXECUTE IT PERFECTLY AND I AM TELLING YOU YOUR PLANS AS OUTLINED IN THE POST WILL CAUSE MORE PROBLEM THAN SOLVING CRIME. A HEN RUN UNTIL YOU CORNER HER AND HER CHICKS PASS THIS LAW AND THE PPL OF THIS COUNTRY WILL BE YOUR HEN.

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  19. Hmm says:

    Now commissioner. You dead wrong with this. Mandatory!!. No sir

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  20. Charnele says:

    This is cheap, this is only happening because it a black community. White man in charge lock up the place folks.

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  21. Charnele says:

    White folks like to see black folks behind bars.

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  22. Anonymous says:

    No to forceable DNA.

    No to long and unusual detention

    No to tenets, practices and ideololgies of a communist state.

    Human and privacy rights must be protected by all means.

    Invasion of one’s privacy should not be at the free will of the police, but should be protected by the Constitution and the courts.

    With all due respect sir, and i know you are reading this, your suggestions are articles found in dictatorship manuals.

    Every individualhas the right to be free from excessive and unusual treatment by the police. What you are suggesting crosse that line sir. Where a DNA sample is needed, use a legal and humane method to obtain it, not forced and mandatory gestapo tactics.

    What is scary here is where will this type of policing end? What precedent will it set?

    It could easily establish grounds for a rigid police aparatus. Moreover, if you so chose, you can make all of us be chained tomorrow and force us to give DNA samples or go to jail, or go to work for the state without pay. Indeed, those are the kinds of legalalities that often lead to concentration camps, illegal detentions, police abuse and even slavery.

    Hoping they are not instituted into BVI law.

    Those ideas must be scrapped at once.

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  23. And now this... says:

    So a few months ago one of his cops gets a suspended sentence for tipping off suspects when the Leader of the Opposition put in a good word for her and now here is the Commissioner telling the public and the politicians that crime can’t solve because them need to force people to give up them DNA…who do these people really think we are? Other countries what have this have terrorism and they get terrorist attacks very regular…BVI is not there…the police have TOO MUCH power I tell you…and they need to be policiing themselves…time we get a police watch dog up in this place.

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  24. wize up says:

    you are innocent until you are proven guilty: it is my overstanding this new DNA legislation is already at the Cabnet Level: mr politician why cant the people of this British Virgin Islands have an input into matters such legislation that will adversely affect our society: mr commissioner looks like he bent on turning this place into a police state; he condones the unlawful conduct of his boys(early 2019 a set of his staff went on high court trial and it appears all of them walked free) not one word from the head of police(evidence tampering is a very serious crime by police and public officials in most part of this universe except in Road Town): let me say this; if a son of the soil was at the helm of the royal virgin islands police force, he or she would have been under more scrutiny: the road town that I personally know for over 60 years in now very lawless: political lawlessness and the social lawlessness is mind blowing….I am not picking on no person(2017 allegation of looting/stealing/Theft of persons property associated with law enforcement and to this day???

  25. Tola storm says:

    You cant force ppl to give DNA samples it’s the suspect rights to denies or volunteer this procedure and 24hrs is all you get to detain a suspect of crime if your evidence is insufficient, I want to know what about the justice for the dirty cops in your work force I’m just seeing charges drop and stories changing. Clean your house try cleaning ppl own

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  26. Me says:

    Do no evil, fear no evil. As simple as that.

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  27. Just curious. says:

    Don’t people have a right not to give a DNA sample? I would be reluctant too. The law enforcement sector cannot be trusted. There are corrupt police who can take that same DNA and do only what God knows with it. Let us not pretend. We all know how efficient and spotless these people are. I feel that taking DBA by force is somehow infringing on our rights. I would like to see crimes solve quickly too but we must be careful. Sometimes our good intentions cause those who are innocent to suffer.

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  28. Illegal!!! says:

    Better go sit down. Is this a law in the UK? Pretty sure this shite is unconstitutional and only applied to terrorists. If the government is stupid enough to pass this law then this is it.

  29. Wondering says:

    So who pays for all these DNA TESTS? Next they’ll make the suspect pay! Then the test has to be processed, where? BVI POLICE can’t keep evidence straight who says they won’t mix up, either deliberately or accidentally my DNA, with someone else’s? Organ harvesters want access to DNA data bases, let’s say no!

  30. A Better Virgin Islands says:

    I’d rather see CCTV cameras on every public street looking at every public space than this!

  31. Windy says:

    This is not to solve crime but to find out Who’s Your Daddy !

  32. wow says:

    They don’t need this type of power especially holding for days without charges, the police force too corrupt especially the Virgin Gorda Police

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