While ‘demanding’ more crime-fighting action from the local police force, Premier Dr D Orlando Smith last evening accused foreign companies of selling the territory’s young people lies that promote a lifestyle of drugs, violence, hatred, and murder.
He made the comments in his Mid-Term address to the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which already recorded seven murders since the start of the year. The territory’s population is roughly 30,000.
Premier Smith told residents: “Like many of you, I am deeply troubled by the persistence of violent crime in our territory, and I am resolute about doing something about it.”
“We in the BVI are a family. We are neighbours to each other. We are bound by common ties of blood, kinship, and values. It is intolerable and unacceptable that so many of our young people have bought into the lies sold to them by foreign companies promoting a lifestyle of drugs, violence, hatred and yes murder. Let me speak clearly: we are all in a battle for the lives of our children and the safety of our community,” added Premier Smith.
Since 2008 when the BVI reported nine murders, it had not recorded more than four in any given year until now.
Premier Smith, however, remains convinced that the territory is one of the safest.
“I give thanks to God that the BVI is still a very safe corner of the world. Our rates of violent crime remain much lower than much of our region or the broader world beyond. Yet, even these relatively low rates of crime are not acceptable to me to my Government or to the God-fearing and law-abiding people of this community.”
Premier Smith reiterated that his government is giving its ‘full backing’ to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, adding that he is demanding greater effort from the law enforcers who fall under the Office of the Governor.
“We have provided the police with all the financial support they need, and we are demanding of them that they step up their efforts to respond to and solve open criminal cases,” the premier declared.
Furthermore, members of the Smith administration were lambasted recently for not attending a community peace concert. That did not prevent the premier from using his Mid-Term address last evening to congratulate persons who attended.
“I appreciate the efforts of those community minded persons who have called attention to this rise in crime through concerts and other events, and reiterate my call upon the people of the Territory to work with the police toward the goal of solving crimes that have been committed,” Premier Smith said.
He continued: “We must be united in this effort. There is no Belonger and non-Belonger; no National Democratic Party or Virgin Islands Party; no resident or visitor when it comes to crime. On this front, there are only two sides – us and them. On our side are all those who uphold the law. On their side are those who seek to corrupt our youth and spread violence among our people. We all must decide on which side we stand and then act accordingly. We must do so because it is right. We must do so because it is moral. We must do so because it is about our future.”
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