It is a distinct honour and privilege for me as Prime Minister and Minister of National Security of St. Kitts and Nevis to address the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force as your leadership and rank-and-file celebrate the Christmas season and New Year.
This is a season when we as Christians reflect upon the significance of Jesus’ birth. Concurrently, it is also a hectic time for police, security forces and emergency personnel around the world, putting into sharp relief the significance of your presence and function in our societies.
Consider that Christmas time and New Year’s celebrations, statistically speaking, register an increase in deaths and injuries globally, from accidental shootings and other gun-related incidents; drunk driving; heart attacks; house fires, and strokes, just to name some factors.
This means that, year after year, the public depends on the police more than ever during the holidays, and December 2017 is no exception.
In fact, here in St. Kitts and Nevis, this season has shaped up to be exceptionally busy for all the right reasons. For instance, our booming cruise sector is expected to bring close to 275,000 visitors in December 2017 alone, translating into more than US $30 million in cruise passenger spend for the month. Moreover, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, seven cruise ships are expected to dock in St. Kitts on each day. The Ministry of Tourism has held advance consultations with the Ministries of Health and National Security, as well as with other stakeholders on this matter.
In light of both the aforementioned and the noticeable gains that have been made this year by the personnel in these Ministries and other key agencies, the Government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis are therefore assured that the police, security forces and emergency personnel can rise to any challenge that might present itself, as they have capably done in the past.
Speaking of the past, I note that, during the Christmas season, one is wont to reflect on the year that is almost done and muse about the possibilities and opportunities that may arise in the New Year. I take this opportunity, then, to commend you all on a commendable performance, specifically regarding your remarkable improvements in crime detection and intelligence-led and community policing. You have demonstrated discernible progress, interest and commitment, and my Government has rewarded you by committing $75.5 million to be allocated to the Ministry of National Security in 2018. This record high allocation for the Ministry – and the year-over-year increases to the crime-fighting budget under this administration – reflects our optimism, as well as our unending support and belief in each and every one of you.
We expect that in 2018 you will build on the momentum gained by the sustained influx of relevant and updated high-tech crime-fighting tools, which have been made available to the police force since the early days of my administration.
Next year will see the further extension of my Government’s vision of ensuring the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force is a modern, successful law enforcement agency, which is well regarded by the public. This vision includes constructing and refurbishing police stations; incorporating even more science and technology into the police force; expanding the CCTV project nationwide; boosting capacity building and support services for the police such as counselling, and increasing police presence in our communities.
As we stand on the cusp of a promising New Year, I thank you for your loyal service and look forward to your invaluable contributions in the coming years. I also offer you my highest commendations and unfailing assurance that the Government and people of this great country will always stand beside you as you stand up for what is right and just.
May you and your loved ones have a blessed and safe Christmas and a Happy New Year!