16 April, 2009


The Police Press Conferences have been a major improvement in public relations. I have now written some 40 posts on this blog concerning the Royal Anguilla Police Force. Most of my posts have not been complimentary. It was just two years ago that the reputation of the Force in Anguilla was at rock bottom. No one in Anguilla knew what the police were doing to assist us in preventing and solving crime. I received a steady stream of telephone calls from frustrated victims and other members of the public.

On 21 April 2007, I wrote a column called Police 2. I described a meeting I had had with the Commissioner and some of his senior officers to discuss my disquiet with the functioning of the Force. Not that I have any right to be consulted. I just felt I had to put in my two cents worth about the need for the police to hold regular press conferences. There were other matters that I wrote about around the same time. I wrote this about my conversation with the Commissioner:

“I suggested the need for the police to improve the use of the press and other media. He explained that the RAPF is well aware of the need to improve in this area. They are considering training a suitable officer in PR work, either that or recruiting a professional. It seemed to me that it would take too long to wait for that process to be completed. I urged the Commissioner that all that is needed at the moment is to be more open with the public. I asked why not get a volunteer from the force and give that person the extra job of being public relations officer. Of course, it might not be as satisfactory as having a professional. Then, train someone in the meantime. But, why dilly dally and hesitate?

Giving the public the information it needs, in a way that does not harm the work of an on-going investigation, is something that, in my view, any intelligent police officer suitably motivated and encouraged can do in a way that would be an improvement on the situation we have at present. We all look at television. We see the way it is done in other countries. There is no more effective aid to the police than a well informed and alerted public. The Commissioner should be more active and imaginative in recruiting us in the effort to combat crime in our community.”

Some weeks later, the police began holding press conferences. They have continued to hold these conferences each week. They are not broadcast on radio and TV, but the radio journalists and the newspapers attend. They publish excerpts. The resulting rise in public confidence over the past two years has been little short of amazing. The police are now held in relatively high regard once again in the general community.

I have stopped receiving emails alleging incompetence and wrongdoing.

It is amazing what a cleansing effect a little sunlight and fresh air can have.

Related posts:

Police 3

Police 8

Crime Reduction



  1. And how amazing how an Island population can change their perception, can make a 180 even, in such relatively short time!
    YOU are amazing for getting that turn started. I wish for much fresh air and sulight in all shady area's. One step and just keep going. Thank you, Don Mitchell.

  2. One thing that might help is to fingerprint the population. I know it sounds onerous but I had to be fingerprinted just to take the bar exam so it has far less of a stigma in the US. Anyway, it's laughable that the police run around after a crime taking prints from the scene when there's virtually no database with which to compare them. It will both solve & deter crime -- a great combination!

  3. Yes, I notice that they now sometimes announce the name of some of the people they arrest. Good going, Mr. Mitchell. Keep after them. They have a ways to go yet.

    Inspector Sinclair is quoted in today's Police Report in The Anguillian that if we disagree with a decision made by an officer we should report it to a more senior officer or the Commissioner. There is a widespread belief in the community that they have a bias for protecting their own. Inspector Sinclair's suggestion is an invitation for the police to cover up their own mistakes.

    During the Constitutional Review, the public expressed a clear desire for there to be an independent police review procedure that is not controlled either by the head of the Department or by elected officials. I am counting on you, Mr. Mitchell, to ensure that these checks and balances don't get "lost" during the constitutional negotiations. Thank you.


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