TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS GOVERNMENT TAKES ACTION AGAINST CRIME
The Turks and Caicos Islands Government (TCIG) has always outlined crime as a major priority and since coming into office has promoted the development of an effective crime strategy to improve citizen safety, prevention efforts and deterrence of crime; however, in recent weeks there has been an evident spike in gun related offenses and reports of home invasions and robberies in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
To reduce these seemingly isolated incidents of crime, and continuing to actively take action against crime in the Turks and Caicos Islands, TCIG has implemented numerous initiatives to assist police in ensuring the safety of TCI citizens and are evolving to improve upon existing initiatives in the fight against criminals.
- National Security Strategy – a comprehensive National Security Strategy is being developed to effectively confront crime throughout the country. This multipronged approach will identify immediate national security threats; efficiently manage the resources currently available; procure additional tools and resources for internal and external security agencies; strengthen partnerships internally and regionally and internationally collaborating on security initiatives and will engage the Turks and Caicos community in the fight against crime.
- Introduction of Scanning Equipment at TCI Ports – this will aid in the fight against the importation of weapons. This has been budgeted for in this current financial year 2019/20.
- Border Protection Agency – the formation of a Border Protection Unit and Central Intelligence Unit will unify all forces in defense of the country. Marine protection will include the acquisition of drone aircraft and additional sea craft to strengthen the current sloop interception rate.
- Community Policing – the relationship between the residents of these islands and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) is critical to discouraging criminality. The manner in which patrols are carried out by the RTICPF officers has been reassessed and since there has been an increase in foot patrols and a more strategic police presence in communities that are hot spots for criminal activity.
- More Resources for police – the new Commissioner of Police and Senior Executive Team for RTCIPF conducted a review of the force and TCIG has agreed to provide funding to recruit 20 officers and to support the establishment of a Specialized Gun Squad.
- Stiffer Penalties for gun crimes – since coming to Office TCIG has increased the mandatory sentence from 5 years to 7years.
- Rehabilitation Programme – this Government is committed to continuously investing in the people of the Turks and Caicos and consequently in July this year launched the Chance for Change Programme which aims to rehabilitate offenders through programs administered at Her Majesty’s Prison in Grand Turk and ultimately decrease the rate of recidivism (reoffending). This initiative offers drug and addiction rehabilitation programs, skill development in agriculture at the on-site farm, culinary skill development, educational opportunities and anger management sessions to support the transition of offenders into wider society upon release.
- Trade School – TCIG believes that there must be a means of making Turks and Caicos Islanders more employable, specifically the youth; hence, the Government is hastily working towards commencing a Trade School at the start of the new academic year.
- Domestic Fire Services to return to Grand Turk – due to the ongoing criminal activity of arson in Grand Turk, TCIG made a decision in its first Supplementary to purchase a Domestic Fire Truck for Grand Turk signaling the restart of Domestic Fire Services on this island. A fire truck has been secured during the last Budget cycle. The Government will be stiffening the penalties or persons found guilty of arson.
The Turks and Caicos Islands Government stands with the Governor and the Commissioner of Police in the path ahead to reducing the increase in incidents of violent crime and maintaining the peace and tranquility of these islands. Our individual and communal safety in addition to the consequences that incidents of crime and violence can have on our Tourism, makes us all equal stakeholders in this vexing fight against crime. TCIG implores that together we must all do our parts to effectively assist in the efforts toward a safer Turks and Caicos Islands for all.