PHILIPBSURG, Sint Maarten – In a recently published report, the Law Enforcement Council (Council) gives an account of its inspection into the maintenance of public order during extraordinary circumstances and the role of the Sint Maarten Police Corps (KPSM) in this. Based on its statutory task and under the responsibility of the Minister of Justice, the KPSM is primarily responsible for maintaining public order, also during extraordinary circumstances.
Research shows that the KPSM is almost structurally dependent on assistance for the maintenance of public order during these circumstances due to systematic capacity shortages. This dependency worries the Council because a call for assistance, for example in the context of a disaster (such as a hurricane), should be based on a situation of sufficient human, financial and material capacity, not on a lack thereof.
Public order enforcement
Public order and its maintenance are essential for daily life in society to proceed in a normal manner. This is even more true in the event of extraordinary circumstances, a disaster, or a crisis, due to the usually (serious) impact and consequences of these types of circumstances on society. Based on the inspection, the Council concludes that a valid legal framework is in place as a basis for maintaining public order, mutual assistance and assistance within the Kingdom and necessary international cooperation and coordination during extraordinary circumstances.
The KPSM has developed an integrated approach for large-scale and special actions. This so-called Staff Large-scale and Special Action (SGBO) is a project organization (command structure) of the police. The SGBO forms the basis for the work of the KPSM and the various forms of cooperation in the context of maintaining public order during extraordinary circumstances.
In this inspection, the Council also finds that the personnel, material, and financial capacity of the KPSM and other (local) support organizations is insufficient for the autonomous performance of tasks in the context of public order enforcement during extraordinary circumstances. This worries the Council because this situation means that the KPSM is almost structurally dependent on assistance from local and/or kingdom organizations during extraordinary circumstances. Therefore, in the context of public security, the Council believes that the structural capacity deficit of the KPSM requires attention and prioritization.
Due to the dependency of the KPSM, bottlenecks at different assisting organizations can have an impact on enforcement during extraordinary circumstances. The Council has therefore included the relevant bottlenecks at these organizations in its report. The Council notes that several organizations involved in this inspection draw attention to the fact that their staff may themselves be victims of a disaster or crisis and the consequences this has for these people and the functioning of the organizations. In a broader sense, the Council is concerned about the fact that the government has so far failed to take out insurance for members of the Voluntary Corps Sint Maarten (VKS) to cover the risks that they also run in the context of the performance of their (assistance) activities.
The Council considers the current situation threatening to the functioning of the KPSM and the safety of society as a whole during extraordinary circumstances. In the report, the Council therefore makes 10 recommendations. Improving the structural capacity problems in maintaining public order during extraordinary circumstances is central to these recommendations. In the Council’s view, this constitutes an essential basis for improving disaster management and crisis management during extraordinary circumstances on Sint Maarten.
The full inspection report and all other Council publications are available digitally on the website: www.raadrechtshandhaving.com.