Governor Peter Beckingham responds to the publication by the US Embassy Nassau of travel advice to the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Essentially the US travel advice has not changed since it was previously updated and issued in 2013. The most important point that it makes is that the TCI is a low crime country. We in the TCI benefit greatly from one of the lowest crime rates in the region, and many other countries look enviously upon our safe and secure way of life here in the TCI.
The US advice notes some recent high profile cases here. These are distressing, and I understand why the Americans have mentioned them, in the same way that Travel Advisories generally are constantly updated, including, of course, about crime in many US cities.
I am pleased to report that the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force is confident that it has apprehended those responsible for the recent spate of thefts. They will now be processed through our criminal justice system.
But all have a part to play in helping the Police to tackle these problems. We can do this in two ways.
Firstly, the Police Commissioner and his Officers confident that there are people in our communities who know something about criminal activity who are potentially withholding information or even sheltering the culprits. As a community we must not accept this – if this view is correct, then it brings shame on us. I would encourage any citizen to report what they know to the Police or to call the completely anonymous Crimestoppers TCI hotline on 1-800-8477.
Secondly, we must all play our part in crime prevention by taking easy steps to make life more difficult for the criminal element: do you have security lighting around your home; are you making sure that all windows and doors are properly locked? And from a business perspective, what steps can you take? Can you move to cards rather than cash? If you need to move money can you do so during the day? If you rent our properties to visitors what steps can you easily take to improve their security?
The safety and security of these islands is crucial to our way of life here. While the criminal minority will always provide a challenge, it does not equate to a crisis. Rather, it is a call that we must all band together, Government, Police, citizens and businesses to stamp out criminal behaviour.