The BVI is moving to implement an integrated border security system which aims to keep out persons who have committed crimes in other jurisdictions and keep those who commit crimes locally from escaping.
This will help alleviate the fear that persons are able to slip pass law enforcement to enter and remain in the Territory.
This optimism about the announced border protection system was expressed by Commissioner of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) Mr. Michael Matthews during a PSI radio interview on October 23.
This new system which cost $6M and links Her Majesty’s Customs, the Civil Registry and Passport Office, the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, and the BVI Airports Authority is anticipated to allay immigration related security fears.
Expressing his optimism about the implementation of the new system, Mr. Matthews disclosed that there have been cases where suspects were able to quickly leave the Territory. The Commissioner disclosed that this was the case in 2018.
“We had a very serious incident that occurred here back in 2018 involving a shooting. I won’t go into too many details, but suffice to say that we managed through our current system to work out that somebody who we were very interested in was able to leave the Territory very quickly after the event. We got that information through hard detective work and the community helping us and pointing us in the right direction,” the Commissioner disclosed.
Once the system is fully activated the Commissioner expects that law enforcers will be able to know immediately if someone’s going from the Territory or has left the BVI.
“It’s a system that would tell us at the touch of a button,” he noted.
The Commissioner alluded to the fact that the Territory’s border is porous and said that the Police would also have to ensure that the individual being looked at did not leave through illegal channels.
However, he said that in most cases people who commit the crimes don’t leave illegally.
“A lot of them don’t. They go and try jump on a plane or on a ferry when they committed a serious offence. At the touch of a button, not only will you be able to see if they’ve left or not, you’ll be able to put a marker on the system to stop that person the minute they try to leave the port,” Matthews said.
Dealing with the concern about unsavory characters entering the BVI, the Commissioner said that through law enforcement partnership this would not be a practice.
“When I was first consulted by the immigration team on their proposal one of the things that I did write back and say and drew to our Legislator’s attention was that the police want to be able to connect to that system…so that we can actually see who is coming in and who is going out. Whose being stopped and compare them because of course we have a criminal database here,” the Commissioner stated.
He added, “We want to work with our immigration and customs colleagues to make sure that unwelcomed people don’t remain here for very long. They will be turned away before they even enter through the gates. That is a partnership approach so accessing that system and looking at the intelligence; it would be a critical crime fighting tool and it would secure our borders far more than they have ever been.”