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British Caribbean Dependencies National Security
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies
    << Back to British Virgin Islands Index

    Police forces in the three territories (British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Montserrat) were small and under British control. The British Virgin Islands Police Force consisted of a chief of police, ninety-six police officers, and three civilian officers. Most of the police were native British Virgin Islanders. The headquarters was in Road Town on Tortola. In addition to the usual crime prevention and law enforcement activities associated with a police force, the police in the British Virgin Islands were responsible for firefighting. They also operated one marine patrol craft and two launches for use in enforcing the three-nautical-mile territorial limit of the islands, for fishery protection, and for antismuggling and antidrug operations.

    The Anguilla Police Force was formed in 1972 to replace a detachment of the London Metropolitan Police that had served on the island since 1969, when the island seceded from the St. KittsNevis -Anguilla union. In the 1980s, the force was headed by a chief of police, who reported to the minister of home affairs. There were eighty police officers, as well as special officers who could be deputized as necessary. The force's formal duties included national security, and, as such, it operated two ships for fishery protection and antismuggling operations. Most officers were native Anguillians, but some were recruited in St. Vincent. Headquarters was in The Valley. The British operated the criminal justice system.

    The Royal Montserrat Police Force had eighty to ninety members commanded by a chief of police. As in Anguilla, the Montserratian force was responsible for enforcing the territorial waters limit and for fishery protection. On Monserrat, these duties were the specific responsibility of the Marine Police, which had the use of one marine patrol craft.

    No insurgencies or mass-based antigovernment groups existed in these three territories in the late 1980s. Strikes occasionally occurred over wages and related issues, but political strikes appeared nonexistent. Since the British government retained responsibility for defense, British Army units would undoubtedly be brought in to handle any serious domestic unrest.

    Britain maintained no army or naval units in the dependencies. The closest British Army forces were in Belize. Although Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands were members of the OECS as of 1987, neither had joined the Regional Security System (RSS). Montserrat also refrained from participating in OECS voting in late October 1983 to support the United States-Caribbean intervention in Grenada (the British Virgin Islands was not yet a member of the OECS). Futhermore, paramilitary forces from these territories were unlikely to participate in any proposed regional post-Grenada defense and security arrangements, since Britain had opposed such involvement by its dependent territories. Nevertheless, the British Virgin Islands were in the area patrolled by the United States Coast Guard forces based in the United States Virgin Islands (see Current Strategic Considerations, ch. 7).

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    In 1987 there were few works that focused solely on the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, or Montserrat. The most useful sources of information on these islands can be found in a series of yearbooks and in compendium discussions of all the Caribbean islands. The Caribbean Handbook, edited by Jeremy Taylor, is one of the most comprehensive discussions of all of the Caribbean islands. Included in each country's profile are sections on history, commerce, finance, government, and general business regulations. The Europa Year Book provides current data and background, and the Latin America and Caribbean Review (published yearly), edited by Richard Green, is an excellent source on economic and political events of the past year. Current events can be followed through the monthly British newsletter, Latin American Monitor: Caribbean. Useful business information can be found in the Business Traveller's Handbook, edited by Jane Walker. Two works by residents of the islands also are worth noting. Colville Petty's Anguilla: Where There's a Will There's a Way presents an Anguillian view of the break with St. Kitts and Nevis. H.A. Fergus's Montserrat: Emerald Isle of the Caribbean describes day-to-day life on Montserrat. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

    Data as of November 1987

    NOTE: The information regarding British Caribbean Dependencies on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of British Caribbean Dependencies National Security information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about British Caribbean Dependencies National Security should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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