Last week the Territory bade farewell to the remaining batch of United Kingdom Police officers who worked hard to assist the BVI in its recovery from Hurricane Irma. The announcement was made in a statement by His Excellency Augustus Jaspert on 17 November.
Governor Jaspert who announced that he deactivated the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) on Monday 20 November reflected warmly on the presence of the UK officers in the Territory, and expressed thanks. “We said goodbye to the bulk of the UK police officers who have been working with the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force to support the Territory,” Governor Jaspert said.
As the Governor mentioned that other police forces came to the Territory’s aid in its time of need he also noted that two sister territories police forces will remain: “I am pleased that officers from Bermuda and the Cayman islands who have been funded by the UK Government will stay with us for months to come.”
In expressing gratitude to the officers Governor Jaspert said: “I cannot thank you enough for your prompt and on-going response in this period of disaster. There is a saying, “many hands make light work”. Together with us, you have helped and continue to help the British Virgin Islands respond to the unprecedented crisis. I thank you for your continued efforts.”
Following the devastation of the hurricanes the United Kingdom reportedly deployed over 100 marines and troops to the BVI to assist with security, humanitarian relief and law and order. These officers were joined by troops from other Caribbean islands such as Barbados and British Overseas Territories.
The military assistance received comfortably eased the efforts by BVI authorities to address a number of priority needs which included providing relief supplies, restoring communications, supporting repair of utility infrastructure of the BVI Electricity Corporation along with critical facilities including schools.
As the situation began to improve the military presence in the Territory was reduced in October when the majority of the officers left. The withdrawal was done in a phased manner.
Sister Territories Still Helping
In its first response to the BVI, Bermuda sent a team of six officers to the Territory on 17 September. The team’s mission was to provide armed support. Upon arrival the officers were sworn in as special constables of the Royal British Virgin Islands Police Force and took of the challenge of patrolling the Territory’s streets. Among the tasks were: responding to reports of looting and public disorder, providing escorts for bank cash movements and assisting with prisoner transfers.
The first team returned to Bermuda on 8 October and another team of six replaced them. The second team returned home on 19 November and another team replaced them.
It was reported that the newly arrived Bermuda team are expected to distribute some toys and baby supplies as a special Christmas giveaway.
As of Monday it was announced that 16 Royal Cayman Islands Police Service officers were in the Territory continuing to assist the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force to maintain law and order.
Since the devastation caused by two consecutive category 5 hurricanes it was mentioned that a total of 48 officers from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service have assisted the BVI in its recovery and rebuilding efforts. The first batch consisted of 16 officers.