Commissioner of Police at the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force Mr Michael B. Matthews, in admitting that an active sex trade exists in the British Virgin Islands, says while the force is cognisant of the industry, they are unsure about how to tackle it.
"The Virgin Islands is no different than any other society that I've policed around the world... there is a sex trade that operates within the Virgin Islands as well as it does anywhere else," he told Kenneth G. Gladstone on the October 22, 2019, edition of his radio show 'A Moment of Truth', on PSI Online Radio.
Crime or social issue?
"Everybody will have mixed views about what that means, but we do have certain laws in place, for example, it is illegal under our legislation here in the territory to operate a brothel or to permit the acts of prostitution," Mr Matthews told the listening audience.
He noted; however, that he would be naive to say prostitution in brothels was not occurring somewhere within the Virgin Islands. "The issue, of course, is how to tackle that... Do you deal with this as a social issue, as a society issue or do you deal with it as a criminal issue?" he asked rhetorically.
The Police Commissioner said he expects responses would be that the force should step in immediately to arrest and shut down brothels and other places facilitating prostitution.
"My response to that is; if it is brought to our attention-that an illegal premise is operating under some kind of illegal activity or sex trade-of course, we are going to act and enforce the laws of the territory," he said.
'We don't get calls about prostitution' - CoP Matthews
While Mr Matthews reaffirmed the force's strict policy against sex trade and prostitution, he noted that the force hardly gets complains about the issue, "It might not surprise you to know... that we don't get too many calls... about where the local prostitutes may be hanging out or where the local brothel may be," he said.
Calling it one of the 'best-kept secrets' of the local community, Mr Matthews pointed out that in the Virgin Islands, there are some who are quite comfortable with the concept of prostitution and happy that the service is available.
"But it is illegal, it is something that I don't personally feel we should be tolerating. I think there is more that we can do to deal with the problem," he admitted.
CoP Matthews; however, said he remains worried about the exploitation of women and possibilities of human trafficking in the territory, "but I don't think we have reached that kind of problem and challenge here in the Virgin Islands."