Professional police force among Caribbean’s best

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police ForceThe Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force operates f„Five boats and one twin-engine aircraft, plus joint aerial patrols with the U.S. Coast Guard. A t„Training academy on Grand Turk and a „Tactical Team.


Last year in New York City, just the increase in the annual number of property crimes involving iPhones and other Apple products added up to 3,890, a tiny percentage of the roughly 109,000 “major crimes” committed in the city in 2012.

Meanwhile, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, police investigated 2,693 crimes in 2012. That’s an average of seven crimes, of all varieties, per day – for the entire nation.

And the best news? The new figure is down 6 percent from 2011, when police investigated 2,857 crimes (eight per day).

Commissioner of Police Colin Farquhar of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force doesn’t typically emphasize those statistics, and reminds listeners that modest changes in such small sample sizes can produce big shifts in rates. For example, when Farquhar instituted an accountability policy that required a more formal police response to all citizen reports, he warned other government officials to expect an increase in the crime rate.

“The more confidence people have (that they’ll get a police response to a report), the more likely they are to report something,” Farquhar said. True to his prediction, the policy increased the number of crimes reported, and after a temporary surge in the crime rate, the rate went back into decline. That’s in part because the solved-crime rate is improving. In 2012, it rose from 18 percent to 29 percent.

The Turks and Caicos Islands remains one of the safest nations in the Western Hemisphere, with low crime rates on Providenciales and Grand Turk, and virtually no crime on some of the less populated islands. For instance, of the 45 robberies committed last year, 42 occurred on Provo, three on Grand Turk, and none on any of the other populated islands. And while the islands draw roughly one million tourists annually, only 23 crimes were committed against visitors in 2012.

That’s not to suggest that police have little to do. As the only police organization in a country without a military, multiple duties fall to Farquhar’s 270 officers. They staff stations on six of the nation’s 40 islands, protect the country’s marine resources from poachers, participate in joint aerial patrols with the U.S. Coast Guard, cooperate with the nation’s customs and immigration services, and investigate all the nation’s major crimes – rare though they may be.

The police force dates back to 1799, making it the oldest in the Caribbean. A veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Farquhar has held the top job in the Turks and Caicos police force since 2011. His previous experiences include assignments as the Deputy Police Commissioner for the U.N. Mission to Haiti and Canada’s first police advisor to the United Nations in New York.

He’s expected to serve in this post for another two years, and hopes to use that time to continue his series of gentle updates to the force’s programmes and procedures. “The police force here has a lot of traditions, and there’s a lot of fondness for them,” Farquhar said. “I told them ‘You can keep your tradition. Traditions are good. But you need to modernize your techniques.’”

Radical changes are not on the agenda. Officers will continue to patrol in crisp khaki uniforms that reflect the islands’ British heritage, leaving firearms at the station during routine duties. But whether it’s training (the country began training its own cadets in 2010) or equipment (the traditional uniform has been updated to include non-slip shoes and a service belt made of 21st century materials), or policies (Farquhar has emphasized a more visible role for his officers in the community), the trend for the Turks and Caicos police force is more modern – and less crime.


Did you know?

The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force has 8 stations across the nation-
Division A: Grand Turk, Salt Cay, South Caicos
Division B: On Providenciales (Five Cays, Chalk Sound,Grace Bay), North Caicos, Middle Caicos

The department was founded in 1799, making it the oldest in the Caribbean.

Image: TCIG Governor’s Office