Thursday, April 27, 2006

Law Enforcement Meeting To Fight Crime

The heads of Her Majesty’s Customs, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) and the Immigration Department are participating in an international law enforcement conference, which is held in Anguilla this week. The conference runs from April 24 to April 28. It is held each year in order to facilitate discussion on law enforcement matters for United Kingdom Caribbean Overseas Territories. The theme of this year conference is Ensuring Capacity, Capability and Sustainability in the Delivery of Effective Law Enforcement Services.

The conference will hold discussions on several issues related to crime fighting in the UK Overseas Territories, including crime prevention, regional and international cooperation to fight crime, drug trafficking threats, witness protection, immigration and customs enforcement as well as recruitment and retention of law enforcement personnel.

From BVI officials information it comes out that the efforts will be mostly directed towards "local" things like illegal immigration to the BVI, British Virgin Islands Customs Department improvement, reducing "local" crime or crime on the borders. Offshore business and offshore banking that could be used for international crime seems less important in this context. The conference will be attended by the representatives of BVI Financial Services Commission (FSC) this fact itself means at least "something". The function of BVI FSC includes also: "Policing the perimeter of regulated activities and instigating and pursuing enforcement actions against any individual or business found in violation of BVI financial services laws" and "Monitoring and detecting financial crime, as well as assisting in the prosecution of such crime".

BVI Police Commissioner Mr. Reynell Fraser suggested that the conference will increase the recent intensified efforts aimed at reducing crime in the BVI. He also stated that the information shared at the conference will help law enforcement agencies in the BVI to identify and adopt international best practices in order to fight crime. So, the BVI is going to gain some considerable benefits from the conference, which will by all means strengthen the law enforcement strategies in the BVI.

Mr. Wade Smith, the British Virgin Islands Customs Department official said Government is looking for modernised law enforcement and information sharing capabilities. He said Her Majesty’s Customs indicates the following top priorities - integrity, accountability and transparency.

Mr. Malvern Brathwaite, Acting Chief Immigration Officer states that the region faces a daunting task in illegal immigration matters. According to him, Government recognises that illegal immigration can become a serious threat to the economic and social welfare of the British Virgin Islands. However, Government is doing its best to ensure that this will not happen.

Law enforcement officials from Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Montserrat and Turks and Caicos Islands are also attending the conference. Two years ago - in March 2004, the BVI hosted the event.

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