A BVI resident lodged a complaint of misconduct against the Royal Virgin Islands Police Station (RVIPF) citing lack of consideration and unnecessary delays. This complaint was mentioned in a report from the Complaints Commissioner that was laid on the table of the House of Assembly on 17 December.
The resident who was identified in the report as Mr. X is said to reside on Tortola. The Complaints Commissioner said that he visited the office and filed the complaint stating that he has experienced unnecessary delays in his efforts to get his brother-in-law to the United States to a rehabilitation center for treatment.
Mr. X said that he was faced with many obstacles all. The resident said that he felt like his relative would be the one who would pay the ultimate price.
The Complaint Commissioner said that because Mr. X’s brother-in-law was an ex-offender, certain documentation had to be submitted in order for him to be able to travel to the US. Mr. X said that he had made sure that he had all the necessary documents and submitted them to the Police Department in a timely manner in order to meet the deadline given by the organization involved for his brother-in-law to travel. Time passed and still there was no communication as to whether or not his brother-in-law would be able to make the trip.
He stated that he called, emailed and finally wrote a letter to the Commissioner to no avail. He also contacted the US Department of Homeland Security to find out whether or not the information needed by them was submitted (he was told nothing was sent to them and they, US Homeland Security, in turn tried to assist him the best way they could with the information he provided to them.)
The Complaints Commissioner said it intervened on Mr. X’s behalf and started dialogue with the RVIPF to ensure that this matter was dealt with and the Complaints Commissioner was kept abreast of the progress of Mr. X’s request. As a result Mr. X was granted a face to face meeting with the Commissioner and was promised that his matter would be dealt with immediately, which it was.
In its recommendation the Complaints Commissioner stated that police officers are accountable to everyone regardless of their opinion of the person or situation, they are obligated to operate within the confines of the law and according to procedures not on personal feelings.
Additionally, the Complaints Commissioner noted that police officers hold a tremendous amount of power, but they should never take advantage of and abuse that power. “Department policies and procedures should be followed by all officers to ensure that the standards of professionalism are maintained at all time.”
Mrs. Sheila Brathwaite is the BVI’s Complaints Commissioner since 2015. The Complaints Commissioner, often called the Ombudsman, offers to the public a channel for raising complaints about maladministration in the public service and statutory bodies. It provides a mechanism to investigate complaints thoroughly and independently and offers an unparalleled ability to get to the heart of any shortcomings within the public sector. Mrs. Brathwaite has had a long and successful career of almost 30 years with the Government of the Virgin Islands and served as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour and the Ministry of Health and Social Development. She retired from the Public Service in 2010. Ms. Brathwaite has represented the Government at seminars, workshops and conferences throughout the Caribbean and in North and Central America, London, Geneva, Gibraltar and Kenya.