STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR JOHN J. RANKIN
AT THE JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
ADDRESSING MATTERS RELATING TO CRIME AND PUBLIC SAFETY
MARCH 18, 2021
Like everyone else in the British Virgin Islands, I was deeply shocked by the murder which took place in broad day light in Tortola on Tuesday. It was a truly appalling event.
The security of these islands is my responsibility under the constitution and I do not shy away from that responsibility. It is my number one priority and will always be taken seriously. So no effort must be spared in strengthening our security. That includes security on land and at our borders, preventing the flow of illicit drugs, illegal firearms, and people trafficking.
Murder, in particular, is never acceptable, and we must do everything we can to stop the violence that is affecting communities and bring those responsible to account.
To achieve that end I will continue to give my full support and work closely with the Police Commissioner and the members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force.
I welcome the steps the Commissioner has already taken in deploying further resources to tackle drugs and organised crime. I know that the presence of the police on our streets has increased day and night, and has already been welcomed by members of the community.
My office, through funding from the UK, has invested over $1 million to support police training and equipment, enhancing infrastructure and police capability. We have funded upgrades to the Road Town Police Station and repairs to help St. Ursula and other police patrol boats get back in the water. We have also funded crime training and ballistics identification and the rebuilding of the Virgin Gorda Police Station.
But there is more to be done. We already have a number of UK police officers assisting the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force with investigations and I pledge to do all I can to supply further officers and resources as necessary to deal with the spate of homicides that have occurred. To bring the results of police investigations to fruition, I will also continue to support the Director of Public Prosecutions and her team in their work so that those responsible for crimes can be brought to Court.
While I know the police will spare no effort to prevent those responsible for violence and loss of life from their criminal activities, I also know that they cannot always do it alone. The support of the community is required and I encourage anyone, anyone who has information on those involved in drugs trafficking, illegal firearms and organised crime to bring it to the attention of the authorities. The deaths we have witnessed over recent months have deep repercussions for everyone in the community.
So please join me, the Premier and the Police Commissioner in a firm resolve to end the unacceptable violence we have witnessed. I ask that the community stand shoulder to shoulder with us in these efforts and refuse to tolerate criminal activity on these Islands.
I ask this in particular for our young people who are perhaps most at risk of the drugs culture and of being exploited by those who control the drugs trade. Drugs, and the organised crime which surrounds the transhipment and importation of drugs, are deeply corrosive and deeply harmful. The young people are the future of these Islands and we must protect them from those who seek to exploit them.
I will spare no effort during my tenure in office as Governor in doing all we can to keep these Islands safe. I ask all of you to join me in that effort.