BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (PRESS SEC) — Chairman of the Regional Security System's (RSS) Council of Ministers, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has broached the idea of establishing a Forensic Institute for the seven RSS member states, namely Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
"Speaking of St. Kitts and Nevis, we have had to send abroad with much frequency – and at a heavy cost – materials to be assessed at forensics labs in the UK, in the United States and elsewhere," the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis said Friday, March 17th, 2017 while presenting his opening remarks during the annual RSS Council of Ministers' Meeting at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort. The Council comprises Government Ministers who hold responsibility for the national security portfolio in the member states of the RSS.
Prime Minister Harris continued, pointing to the "long wait [that local law enforcement officers have to endure] sometimes before [they] can get responses and therefore complete the investigative process."
Dr. Harris added: "So if within the region we could harness something of excellent quality that cuts out all the down time that we would have, I am sure that we will resolve a lot of the criminal [investigations] a lot more quickly and, at the same time, bring greater assurance with regard to the safety and security of all within our region."
Two days earlier on Wednesday, March 15th, the new RSS Executive Director, Naval Captain Errington Shurland, said in relation to the Honourable Prime Minister's forthcoming public statement: "If that is the direction that Dr. Harris would wish us to go, we can certainly look at it. If that is the direction he wants to go, we can discuss it with other members of the Council, and if there's support for it we can set it up."
The new RSS Executive Director added that at the last Council of Ministers' Meeting before the one held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort on Friday, it was unanimously decided that a Cyber Investigations Lab should be established for the Regional Security System.
The RSS promotes cooperation among the member states in the prevention and interdiction of traffic in illegal narcotic drugs; national emergencies; search and rescue; immigration control; fisheries protection; customs and excise control; maritime policing duties; natural and other disasters; pollution control; combating threats to national security; the prevention of smuggling, and the protection of off-shore installations and exclusive economic zones.
In St. Kitts and Nevis, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris' administration has assigned approximately $72 million to the Ministry of National Security in 2017, the largest yearly budgetary allocation ever given to it.
The $72 million that is being disbursed to the Ministry of National Security this year represents an almost five-fold increase over the $15.3 million allocated to it in 2014. The $72 million is also exactly double the combined total amount ($36 million) disbursed in 2014 ($15.3 million) and 2015 ($20.7 million).
This has resulted in top-notch forensic training, which is exposing law enforcement officers to capacity-building opportunities focused on proper collection, preservation and handling of crime scene evidence that is sent abroad for forensic analysis.
The Team Unity Government has also invested in state-of-the-art forensic equipment, such as a comparison microscope for the Forensic Services Unit in the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force. The comparison microscope enables officers to compare two objects or samples side by side, such as two bullets, two fingerprints and two strands of hair (one plucked from a crime suspect or a victim and the other collected from a crime scene, for instance).
Thanks to the microscope, these comparisons can be done right at the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force Headquarters on Cayon Street. Furthermore, the police force is achieving positive results, as well as a boost in the morale and resolve of its law enforcement officers.
Just yesterday, a police-issued press release stated that, "Investigators within Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police have seen the results first hand of the embrace of continued training and technology. Both were instrumental in the recent arrest and charging of a suspect in a January 2017 incident of Rape."
Andre Mitchell, who is Assistant Commissioner of Police with responsibility for the Crime Directorate, is quoted in the press release publicly commending the law enforcement officers, saying, "It is evident our officers are getting better. They are delivering on the investments made."