GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) — Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) officers were the first policing reinforcements to get to the hurricane stricken British Virgin Islands where, in addition to all other security issues, the local police had to deal with more than 100 prisoners set free by the storm on the island of Tortola.
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Sir Alan Duncan has said there is a “serious threat of the complete breakdown of law and order” in the BVI.
Richard Branson’s son, Sam Branson, has reported on social media that some of the escaped prisoners are now armed.
The Cayman contingent arrived following an urgent request from the governor of BVI, and has for the last four days been assisting the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force to restore law and order and deliver humanitarian aid. The 16 Cayman officers have been carrying out urgent policing duties, including the provision of security for aid convoys.
“Without adequate policing, the environment cannot stabilize enough for aid to be delivered and people to get the help they need,” Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said in an RCIPS release.
As well as the RCIPS officers, the BVI police are also being assisted by the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and British military forces.
“Obviously security is important,” said Matthew Forbes, head of the Governor’s Office of the Cayman Islands, who deployed with RCIPS officers to provide support to the BVI governor’s office, “and the role that RCIPS officers are playing in providing vital security alongside BVI police and the UK military is critical to operations here.”
The RCIPS helicopter, which was dispatched to the Turks and Caicos Islands on 24 hours’ notice and arrived immediately after Hurricane Irma on Saturday, has been assisting with aerial reconnaissance and support. They have completed 35 flights, including two medevacs, and have visited all islands to check on residents, delivering supplies and water, and carrying out damage assessments.
They were joined on Monday by the advance UK military team, and are now working with those military teams to assist in assessments to establish aid, engineering and reconstruction plans.
“The deployment request from the UK Foreign Office was a challenge at 24 hours’ notice, but we made it happen with the help of many people,” said Steve Fitzgerald, executive officer of the Air Operations Unit. “We feel that our ability to arrive so early and equipped to immediately start operational support has made a real difference to people on the ground.”
Republished with permission of Cayman News Service