While noting that more cops have been carrying guns since the start of the year, Commissioner of Police Michael Matthews said the issues of training and having a larger police force are to be discussed, especially considering that the criminal climate has been evolving in the British Virgin Islands.
He said he will eventually raise the subject of bulking up the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) with the relevant authorities.
“It is my intention, at some point, to have that conversation with the new governor [Jaspert Augustus] and with the National Security Council. Currently, we have 250 police officers and ancillaries combined together to police the territory,” Commissioner Matthews told BVI News Online.
He added that, while a larger police force would help to better tackle criminal elements in the territory, other factors such as training are equally important.
“Crime is changing; it is getting better organized. People are getting cleverer. They are using technology in a far greater way to commit crime, and the people are concerned about what the police are going to do about that. But it’s not just about numbers; it’s about the training. It’s about skills as well. But, certainly, the number question will come up during my tenure as to whether we will need to increase the numbers and do further recruitment,” Commissioner Matthews further said.
In the meantime, the top cop stated that he already increased the size of the Immediate Response Unit, which comprises an elite set of officers sanctioned to carry firearms.
“The position [on guns] remains the same. We’ve done a review of firearms response of the force, and that has resulted in a number of recommendations around equipment and training. We’ve adopted those and we are working with the UK and the local government here to deliver on those recommendations. I believe that we have achieved what we should have – an effective and efficient capability for the territory,” the commissioner continued.
“The reality is, more guns don’t necessarily solve crime… Whilst we do have incidences of criminals arming themselves of firearms in the territory, we do also have an armed capability 24/7 on the street of the territory, and I have increased that this year and that will remain increased until such time – until we’ve [completely] delivered on the recommendations.”
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