Veteran UK cop to oversee law, justice reforms

The content originally appeared on: The BVI Beacon

A 30-year veteran of the United Kingdom’s policing service has been named the “implementation manager” responsible for overseeing immediate priority reforms across the Virgin Islands’ law-enforcement and justice-administration agencies.

Governor’s Office spokesman David Humphreys told the Beacon last week that Stuart Murray has been hired to manage the execution of the 138 policy recommendations made as part of the 175-page initial report written by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

Mr. Humphreys described Mr. Murray as a “strategy consultant specialising in law enforcement.”

Mr. Murray recently retired from the Hampshire Constabulary, a police force made up of more than 3,000 officers that covers the southeast English counties of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The police veteran rose to the rank of assistant chief constable and led the country’s National Police Chiefs’ Council portfolio of criminal justice recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr. Humphreys said.

‘Deep-rooted weaknesses’

The HMICFRS review, which Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley laid on the table at the House of Assembly on June 25, found “deep-rooted weaknesses across many aspects of public administration, including leadership at all levels.”

These included widespread failings at agencies including the Royal VI Police Force, His Majesty’s Customs, the Immigration Department and His Majesty’s VI Prison Service.

Unsafe conditions

The issues highlighted included unsafe working conditions, lengthy and ineffective procurement practices, poor recordkeeping, a failure to proactively gather and act on intelligence, ingrained distrust among officers, inadequate training, and a lack of proper procedures.

Many of the review’s findings highlighted issues that have previously been identified by other means such as the 2022 Commission of Inquiry, legislators’ annual Standing Finance Committee process, and reports by the media and government watchdogs such as the auditor general and the complaints commissioner. Efforts to address many of the issues have been in the works for years but have often been stymied and ultimately left unresolved.

Next steps

Deadlines to address the HMICFRS recommendations, described in the report as “immediate” issues, loom in the coming months.

Resolving longer-term problems in the agencies will be the focus of “volume two” of the HMICFRS review, which is scheduled to be finished later this year.