Housing and transportation problems are hurting police operations on the sister islands – especially Virgin Gorda.
That is according to Police Commissioner Michael Matthews who spoke on local radio recently.
“We’ve recently tried to increase the number of officers on Virgin Gorda except we got nowhere to house the officers if they, for example, live on Tortola. So, we are sending the officers across using the public service, except, the ferries don’t run particularly late at the moment and so I’m having difficulty in sustaining the coverage I want because those officers have got to get back.”
Matthews said the police force has tried to rent accommodations on the island but their attempts have been fruitless.
He said the available accommodations on the island are either “exceptionally expensive” or unsuitable for officers to stay.
“You then say ‘OK’ you’re going to force their hand and say ‘no, you got to stay in Virgin Gorda’, which is easy to say but the barracks virtually don’t exist there.”
Police operate from a vehicle on JVD
The police of Jost Van Dyke, in the meantime, is struggling with a different sort of housing issue, Matthews said.
He noted that Jost Van Dyke Police have no police station or office space to operate from.
“My officers on Jost Van Dyke: they are operating most of the time just out of a police vehicle. We are fortunate that we have a Customs and Immigration team over there who got a roof over their head so we are able to sort of access occasionally a telephone or something like that. But there is no computer access there.”
“These are facts that the public sector are working in conditions that are far from acceptable and I will continue to fight for safe and effective places to work that is secure for my officers and staff. But, at times, I do feel I’m a voice in the wilderness and, with each day that passes, I don’t see any difference,” Matthews said.
He said police and security have taken a back seat for too long and has called on local legislators to pass and execute its Recovery and Development Plan that is being debated in the House of Assembly.
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