Byron Buckley, News Editor
PLANS BY the United Kingdom to loan Jamaica additional senior police officers are being delayed by a shortage of available personnel.
"It's not an easy request to meet, incidentally, because the demands on our police officers, particularly the senior ones, are very great," the outgoing British High Commissioner, Peter Mathers, disclosed on Wednesday.
According to Mr. Mathers, the U.K. is hard-pressed to find additional personnel to join Scotland Yard detective Mark Shields in Jamaica. Shields joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as deputy commissioner in charge of crime in March.
"We have police presence in Iraq and other parts of the world," Mr. Mathers explained. "So, actually finding the individual is not easy and it's not cheap."
However, he said the matter has been given new impetus following recent talks between Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and his British counterpart, Tony Blair, in London.
"We are actively looking and (we) hope that we will have some additional officers in place shortly," the British diplomat advised The Gleaner.
He revealed that in addition to Shields, other British law enforce-ment personnel were in the island assisting the JCF in areas such as forensic work.
Mr. Mathers, who ends his tour of duty in Jamaica and retires from the foreign service next month, outlined other aspects of the U.K.'s support of Jamaica's fight against crime.
He is upbeat about the success of the anti-drug initiative both countries pursued against the smuggling of cocaine from Colombia into the U.K. by the use of Jamaican women, so-called drug mules, who swallow the substance in small packets. Mr. Mathers reported that the programme has been "spectacularly successful", though noting that some amount of drug smuggling still takes place.