Commissioner of Police Mr Michael B. Matthews says there continues to be a backlog in the local court system as a result of the hurricanes of 2017 and an increased number of processed criminals in the territory, even while pointing to an overall decline in the crime rate of the territory.
Commissioner Matthews was at the time speaking with Mr Kenneth G. Gladstone on the October 22, 2019 edition of his radio show, 'A Moment of Truth', on PSI Online Radio.
Recorded crime rate down
"Overall, the recorded crime rate in the territory is declining, and at the same time we are seeing an increase in the number of offenders that are actually arrested and processed in the criminal justice system within the Virgin Islands," the Commissioner said.
Mr Matthews said; however, that as a direct result of this the court system is now under a tremendous amount of pressure due to the increase in said processed criminals.
"No matter how hard our excellent Magistrates and Judges have been working... the backlog is there and it grows because the force has been very very pro-active in terms of making sure that we continue to remain one of the safest places in the Caribbean," he said.
According to Mr Matthews, based on global statistics, the level of crime in the country is nowhere near the levels of some Caribbean territories, however, the perception of crime locally is easily influenced by sparse criminal activities.
Perception of Crime
"All it takes is a homicide, a shooting, a robbery involving a car and the perception of crime changes in the public's eyes... and I absolutely understand that and I recognise that the public feels safer when they see more policing and see the police about," he said.
The top cop noted that the RVIPF's recruitment campaigns have been successful so far, and as such, the art of managing public perception is to make sure that crime is kept at a low rate, but at the same time, ensure sufficient visibility of officers.
He said with more police visibility, people will feel safer and know that they are safe. The Commissioner further underscored that the figures on the crime rate in the territory are compiled by overseas-based independent analysts and not by himself or the RVIPF.