Law enforcement in the Pitcairn Islands
|Pitcairn Islands Police|
|Legal personality||Governmental: Government agency|
|Operations jurisdiction*||Police area of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, British Overseas Territories|
|Map of Pitcairn Islands Police's jurisdiction.|
|* Police area agency: Prescribed geographic area in the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.|
Historically, and until 2000, a Pitcairn Island resident was appointed as the island group's sole police officer, and also acted as Immigration and Customs officer. Since 2000, the combined police, immigration, and customs role has been held by a series of foreign professionals on short-term secondment. The resident population of the islands has not exceeded 60 in recent years.
Child sex charges
A British policewoman, Gail Cox from Kent, was stationed on the island in 1999 for a short-duty secondment, but during her stay she discovered evidence of historic child sex offences. Her report led to historic sex charges, one dating back to 1972, against a number of Pitcairn Islands men, and also to a change in the way the islands of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie, and Oeno are policed.
Ministry of Defence Police presence
From the start of the investigation into child sexual abuse on Pitcairn (2000), to the conclusion of the appeals process following the Pitcairn sexual assault trial of 2004 (2006), policing was provided by the British Ministry of Defence Police, with at least two officers stationed at any time, on four month rotation. A new prison and police station was specially constructed on Pitcairn Island, the only one of the four islands in the Pitcairn group to be inhabited.
Policing since the investigation
In late 2006, when the appeals process following the sex offence trials was concluded, it was announced that a retired Scottish police sergeant, Malcolm Gilbert from the Orkney Islands, had been recruited on a 12-month contract to police the island from early 2007.
When Sergeant Gilbert's tour of duty ended the British Government entered into an agreement with the Government of New Zealand for the island to have a different New Zealand police officer stationed annually as the resident Pitcairn Police Constable. Twenty New Zealand police officers responded to the British Government's advertisement early in 2008, and Sergeant Mike Cleeton was appointed, taking up his appointment in the early summer of 2008. He reported that he found crime rates to be very low. New Zealand police officers have continued to be posted on one-year secondments since that time.
Owing to the relatively high number of prisoners held in the Pitcairn Island prison (5 prisoners, representing 10.5 % of the permanent resident population) following the 2004 child sex convictions, a number of Department of Corrections officers were stationed on Pitcairn Island, under contract to the British Government. This provision is now being scaled back, as almost all prisoners have reached the end of their sentences, or been moved from the prison to house arrest.
- Pitcairn Islands Online
- Pacific Union Collage - Pitcairn Islands
- Police of the South Pacific
- Mayor Arrested
- "Former PC takes a break as bobby in the middle of South Pacific", New Zealand Press Association, 30 November 2006
- Gavin Madeley, "Lawman to tame a troubled paradise; Island policeman is on a Pacific mission", Daily Mail, 28 November 2006
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