Documents to download

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is a UK Overseas Territory (OT), situated in the Caribbean. It has a population of around 39,000 (2019). It has its own legislature and government. But as with other OTs the UK and UK-appointed Governor has responsibility for the safety and security of its citizens.

The TCI Governor, Nigel Dakin, has warned the Islands are “absorbing an upswing in gang related murder that is alien to TCI but almost endemic to the region.” From 3 September to 8 November 2022 21 people have been killed, mainly due to gang-related violence.

This briefing summarises the UK’s responsibility for the Territory, the background to the violence, and local and international responses.

Responsibilities of the UK

The UK Government is ultimately responsible for the good governance, safety and defence of the Territories and their populations. This includes helping the Territories protect themselves from organised crime.

The Territory’s constitution also reserves to the UK-appointed Governor powers over a range of issues, including defence, internal security, and the police. The Governor has faced calls to resign in response to the incidents but in October said he has no plans to do so and says that the causes of the rise in violent crime are multifaceted.

On 15 December, the UK Government announced that the Governor of Anguilla, Dileeni Daniel-Selvaratnam, will take over as Governor in June 2023.

What is driving the rise in violent crime?

The UK Government considers crime in the Turks and Caicos Islands to be relatively low, and historically be related to opportunistic burglary, theft, and other robberies.

However, there have been a marked increase of homicides in recent years, with 22 reported murders in 2020 and 13 in 2021.

The causes of crime are complex, with long-term causes including poverty, access to employment, support and services, and drugs use and trafficking. The immediate causes of the current rise in homicide cases have been associated with international crime, gangs, the availability of firearms, and drug dealing and trafficking. Other Caribbean countries, including Barbados and Jamaica, have also seen firearm and gang-related incidents.

The Governor and Premier, Charles Washington Misick, have also acknowledged local causes, including irregular settlements, which have poor access to services, issues of equity, economic growth, and substantial population growth putting pressure on local services and the economy.

How has the Territory and UK Government responded?

Local police have been running targeted operations in response to the violence. In November, the Turks and Caicos House of Assembly also passed eleven pieces of legislation to strengthen the powers of the police and magistrates.

The previous Minister for the Overseas Territories, Jesse Norman, visited the Territory in October to meet the Governor and the Police. The Foreign Secretary also announced a package of suppport in October. This includes:

  • A Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ship, RFA Tideforce. This is being used as a platform for operations and has a Wildcat helicopter
  • A contingency plan for a UK specialist firearms unit
  • A package of longer-term support to assist intelligence gathering, firearms training and border control.
  • The deployment of staff from the UK National Crime Agency

The Bahamas has deployed 24 specialist firearms officers, which arrived in early October, with the consent of the UK and Territory Government. The US is also supporting maritime surveillance.

Documents to download

Related posts