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‘Persons charged are held in custody for too long’- Snr Police Officer

- blames DDP for some of the cases
Road Town Police Station: A senior police officer has alleged that some persons charged, depending on their status, are being held for too long by police, making it unlawful. Photo: VINO/File
Commissioner of Police Michael B. Matthews has said he has seen no evidence whatsoever of what is being alleged and that all persons will be treated equally and fairly in accordance with the laws of the territory. Photo: VINO/File
Commissioner of Police Michael B. Matthews has said he has seen no evidence whatsoever of what is being alleged and that all persons will be treated equally and fairly in accordance with the laws of the territory. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- Pointing to several cases as examples, a senior police officer said the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) is not applying the same rules to persons who are of “low means” in their custody.

The officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Virgin Islands News Online on Wednesday, September 18, 2019 that he wants the practice to come to a halt.

“There are a lot of cases where persons spend a long time in custody after being charged,” he said.

The officer said the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is to share some of the blame.

“We have persons who were arrested, and a file was sent down to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for them to go before the court, and they have to end up getting their own surety and bail because the DPP office is not ready for them after they spend two or three days in custody,” he lamented.

Against the law

The senior police source said the practice is against the law.

“The constitution says a man should be placed before the court as soon as possible. If these people had attorneys, they would have never been dealt with like that,” he continued.

The source said the occurrences are not sitting well with him especially after an expatriate man was again kept in custody for too long.

“The man has been in custody since 6.30 am on Monday, and you are telling me that the man has to linger in custody until they feel to bring the man before the court? That is just messed up. This is not right, and if it were somebody in society, he would have been before the court already,” he pointed out.

“When you don’t have no money, that is what is meted out to poor people, and it is very, very sad. It’s unconstitutional, and it’s wrong. I would not want no body to treat a family member or friend this way.”

He, along with another lawyer who spoke to our news reporter, made reference to several occurrences such as the man from St Kitts who was kept in police custody for close to 10 days.

Another example was a local man who was charged for theft and had to be given police bail after he spent at least three days in police custody.


According to the Virgin Islands Constitution chapter 15 section five, "Any person who is arrested or detained— (a) for the purpose of bringing him or her before a court in execution of the order of a court; or (b) upon reasonable suspicion of his or her having committed or being about to commit a criminal offence under any law, and who is not released, within the period prescribed by law, shall be brought promptly before a court."

Section six said, “If any person arrested or detained as mentioned in subsection (5)(b) is not charged within the period or extended period prescribed by law, then, without prejudice to any further proceedings, he or she shall be released either unconditionally or on reasonable conditions, including such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he or she appears later for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial.”

‘No evidence of allegations’- CoP Matthews

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Michael B. Matthews has said he has seen no evidence whatsoever of what is being alleged.

“If anyone has specific evidence please provide it in order that it can be properly investigated. I note that I have received no such complaints of this nature.”

Mr Matthews told Virgin Islands News Online that the only reason a person may be held after charge for any length of time is if a court is not immediately available, which he said is out of the hands of the RVIPF but does happen on occasion.

“The law provides that we should take a charged person before the next available court. If we were breaching this law I am confident the Magistrate’s would become aware and respond accordingly.”

The CoP said the police have a clear responsibility to be impartial when it comes to a person’s status, background or physical means.

“All persons will be treated equally and fairly in accordance with the laws of the territory.”

5 Responses to “‘Persons charged are held in custody for too long’- Snr Police Officer”

  • i from here (19/09/2019, 11:07) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    We need that human rights commission
  • MY 2CENT (19/09/2019, 11:19) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply

    Commissioner of Police Michael B. Matthews GOT HIS NOSE UP HIS A**$.. This happened to somebody very close to me spent a week from Monday to Friday noon. waiting to be release

  • Outlaw (19/09/2019, 13:22) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    Senior police Officer is well on target here. Every thing that is alleged here is correct. When the Commissioner of Police, took his vested charging authority and gave it to the DPP and then wrote in an e-mail that the DPP is the charging authority, then what do you expect? After all every complaint that is laid before the court is laid in the name of the Commissioner of Police as the complainant not the DPP. The law also gave any police Officer the authority to present a matter to the court, nothing bars the police from making a first appearance at court in a matter. When that is done, the DPP’s authority is to take over the matter and to continue or discontinue it. The COP needs to put his authority to use and prevent this long overdue process of persons in custody, law suits against the government and thousands of tax payers money been paid out as settlements
    • History (20/09/2019, 14:53) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I am sure the public remembered when Knight Rider for example as there were many police prosecutors since him...but the police use to do the first appearance and even the minor offences like common assault and criminal trespass. Those were the days I guess. When these "brilliant" people come to our shores citing all kind of experience it really makes the mind wonder. Maybe if those days can be revitalized it would address this problem and also backlog problems. The whole system need prioritising, because I cannot see why the Prosecution Office would waste time clogging up diaries with common assault cases when a trained police prosecutor officer can do that whilst focus is placed on the more serious matters like murder and robbery by the Prosecution Office and Senior police. Maybe cases done by some can be won in the High Cout. All they need to do is prioritize, restructure and focus.
  • Carmine (21/09/2019, 05:53) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    @History. Good but they do not want to do any of that. The DPP office is a ball of confusion. The brightest are leaving and the clowns are staying in the circus..

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