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UK Minister Mike Freer MP, from the Ministry of Justice, visited the BVI between Sunday 5 to Tuesday 7 November. The purpose of the visit was for the Minister to see first-hand the opportunities and challenges in the BVI justice system, and to identify areas for further partnership with the UK.
On Monday, Minister Freer met the Premier, Dr. the Hon Natalio Wheatley, and discussed overcrowding in the prison and the rehabilitation of offenders. He then visited HMP Balsam Ghut with the Minister for Health & Social Development, Hon Vincent Wheatley, to see the facilities and hear from prison staff. Minister Freer also met the Commissioner of Police, Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, Prison Superintendent and members of the judiciary.
On Tuesday, Minister Freer visited the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) Marine Unit to see the UK-funded Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). There he learned about the challenges in dealing withdrug and gun trafficking due to the BVI’s porous borders.
The Minister finished his visit with a trip to H. Lavity Stoutt Community College for a lively discussion on parliamentary democracy with the Minister for Education, Hon Sharie de Castro, to mark UK Parliament Week. Students posed questions to both Ministers and the event helped the students tolearn more about the political systems in both the BVI and the UK.
Minister Freer said “I am grateful for the warm welcome I have received in the BVI. The challenges that law enforcement agencies face are not unique, and we must work in partnership to deal with them. The UK Ministry of Justice is committed to supporting HMP Balsam Ghut. Over the past 12 months we have provided training, personnel support and equipment.”
His Excellency the Governor, John Rankin CMG said: “I am grateful to the Minister for undertaking this busy programme. His visit showed the importance of learning and sharing best practice in meeting common challenges. I remain committed to working with both BVI and UK partners in reviewing and improving the law enforcement and justice systems here in the BVI.”
Note to Editors
Mike Freer MP
Mike Freer MP was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice on 20 September 2022. He was Minister for Exports and Minister for Equalities between September 2021 and 6 July 2022.
He was first elected as a Member of Parliament for Finchley and Golders Green in May 2010. Mike was Assistant Government Whip between June 2017 and July 2018. He was also Lord Commissioner of the Treasury from July 2018 to December 2019 and served as Comptroller of HM Household from December 2019 to September 2021.
Mike Freer MP’s responsibilities are Courts and Legal Services, including Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
UK Parliament Week
Initiated in 2011, UK Parliament Week is an annual series of events that aim to inspire interest in parliament, politics and democracy and encourage young people and the public to engage with democratic systems and institutions.
More information on UK Parliament week can be found here: https://www.ukparliamentweek.org/