Local police officials are warning that more resources are needed to keep Montserrat safe.
Deputy Commissioner Charles Thompson said recent changes in activities to our borders indicate that the island is more frequently being used as a drug transshipment point.
More drugs are being intercepted than five to 10 years ago, the official said. Montserrat was also part of the South to North drug trade line and “we cannot be the weakest link in the system.”
The issue is compounded by the current marine vessel has been deemed unsafe and taken out of the water. “We need a fit for purpose vessel, the deputy commissioner revealed.” And with current plans to extend the maritime zone from three to twelve miles, the current vessel is not adequate for security.
Police officials explained that the small boat has a compromised hull which meant the it had to be taken out to be repaired. Only if there were an emergency would the boat be put back into the water. “It is not meant to be on water 24/7.”
Thompson said that national security was now a government priority, adding things needed to move swiftly. As Montserrat has signed on to international maritime conventions it was against regulations for the island to be receiving cruise ships, operating a ferry service without adequate protection on the seas. “Our ship and port security is questionable,” he pointed out.
The police service is also 10 officers short and efforts are being made to do more regional recruiting as the last recruitment campaign did not bring in any qualified applicants on island.
Commissioner Steve Foster also noted that the police vehicles need to be replaced faster because of their constant daily 24 hour usage.
“As a service it is imperative that we get the necessary resources to provide security for Montserrat. It is not what we are getting at this time. We need resources to support the exercises to keep Montserrat safe,” the Deputy Commissioner stated.
Thompson said the increased killings and crimes on neighbouring islands were cause for concern and it would be a disaster for Montserrat if the current resource constraints were not addressed now. “Montserrat is a closer knit and smaller in number. Crimes like this would be more devastating in a shorter space of time.”