The Joint Task Force created to secure the territory’s borders during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has received several batches of maritime security equipment to support its work at sea.
The security equipment was donated by the Office of the Governor and includes maritime binoculars and life preservers.
According to a press release from the the Governor’s Office, the Joint Task Force is set to receive another shipment which contains state-of-the-art night-vision goggles and GPS devices.
Governor Augustus Jaspert said the new equipment will enable law enforcement officers to conduct marine patrols as they will be equipped with the latest technology to spot and deter illegal entries into BVI.
“The Joint Task Force has been working extremely hard to patrol our extensive land and sea borders. This new equipment will help extend their efforts and capabilities even more. It is imperative that we do everything we can to protect the integrity of our borders and the safety of the people of BVI,” Governor Jaspert said.
Meanwhile, Acting Commissioner of Police Alwin James said he welcomed the additional equipment.
He said: “It is much-needed equipment that will provide for the safety of officers and enhance the ability of the team to do the job more effectively especially in the COVID-19 era of protecting our borders and communities.”
The maritime security equipment will be transferred to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) and the Customs Marine Team after the Joint Task Force no longer requires it.
High-specification navigation equipment for RVIPF’s St Ursula
Additionally, the United Kingdom has also funded the purchase of essential equipment such as high-specification navigation equipment for the RVIPF’s main sea vessel, St Ursula, to get it back on the water.
The governor said this will increase both agencies’ long-term capacity to tackle criminal activity at sea.
Border protection has always been a major area of concern for the BVI. However, the COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue, as many persons have tried to enter the territory illegally despite existing curfews. These reported human smuggling activities have been link to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the territory.
Since the new COVID-19 restrictions, the security forces have apprehended, charged, and deported several persons who attempted to illegally enter the BVI by sea.
Under the current curfew order, there is a restriction on the movement of vessels within the territorial waters, except for approved fisherfolk and intra-island ferries.
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