The government is being urged to divert a portion of the BVI Tourist Board’s budget into crime fighting.
Businessman and member of the Opposition Virgin Islands Party Julian Willock has thrown out the proposal at a time when Government is still in the process of allocating funds to its various agencies for the 2017 financial year.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr D Orlando Smith last month announced a proposed $323.1 million budget, which is yet to be debated in the House of Assembly.
It is not yet clear how much money will be allocated to the BVI Tourist Board for the 2017 fiscal year.
But Willock stated that, considering the amount usually made available, the Tourist Board should be able to give up $1 million for the purpose of crime fighting.
Inadequate funding, he reasoned, remains a major issue for the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.
“You have to also link crime and crime fighting to our tourism product. The government gives the Tourist Board maybe $13 million or $14 million a year; why don’t you take a million dollars out of that and say ‘here is a million dollars for the police’? Do that every year to continue to help fund the police and provide the resources necessary.”
“It is not new money; it is the same money that you would’ve ordinary give to the Tourist Board,” Willock continued.
“The first thing my friends in Government will tell me ‘well the police force is not a revenue generating department like others’. I said, ‘no you have to understand the synergy between crime and our tourism product.”
The businessman, who last week made the commented during the EMG Radio Show hosted by Edmund Maduro, stated that a plethora of other measures should be implemented to arrest crime.
“You have to look at modern technology – the CCTV cameras; it’s my understanding that half of them that’s up around the country are not working. That’s a serious thing; they are not working.”
“And you have to engage also in training your officers. Training in modern technology; training them in proper data collection; and we cannot neglect the role of citizens in the crime-fighting effort. We have to, when we see things, report it. And, in the meantime, we have to have the confidence in the police force.”
Social intervention programmes also require closer attention, according to Willock.
“We have to also look at some of the social issues that are also causing crime – the lack of jobs. There is no excuse [for saying] ‘because I don’t have a job I should commit crime’. No one is remotely suggesting that. But we have to look at the reality on the ground; the linkage between some of the social issues – high school dropout [and] single parent homes.”
“With all those issues, statistics have shown that they have contributed to crime. So we have to look at how we address those issues. And I know that the Social Development Department and other agencies are struggling with these vexing issues, but we have to keep our eyes on those issues,” added Willock.
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