Hurricane Irma: UK police and troops deployed in Caribbean

The damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
The damage inflicted by Hurricane Irma on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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British police officers will be deployed along with almost 500 troops as part of the country’s efforts to step up support to the Caribbean islands left devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Following criticism of its response to the disaster, the Government announced a £32 million aid package and pledged to double any public donations to the British Red Cross appeal for victims of Hurricane Irma, up to £3 million.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced: “The UK has just under 500 troops currently in the region.

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“This is made up of marines, engineers, and a number of medics and specialists, including Army and RAF personnel.

“They have arrived on numerous flights that took off yesterday and today which have also brought aid and a Puma helicopter.”

Army soldiers have deployed from RFA Mounts Bay on the British Virgin Islands and marines secured the airport to open it for military flights before a A400 flight landed on the British Virgin Islands, bringing a further 50 marines.

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“Further flights are expected tonight,” said an MoD spokesman on Saturday.

“By the end of the evening there will be well over 100 marines and troops on the island, their priority will be establishing security and law and order before providing humanitarian assistance before the arrival of Hurricane Jose.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) announced that British police officers will provide support to the British Virgin Islands force as part of the relief effort.

It said two members of the UK police cadre, who support the military in times of international crisis, flew out on Friday, while a further 53 British officers from 14 police forces, including the Metropolitan Police, are due to leave from RAF Brize Norton in co-operation with the MoD.

The officers will support the local police force to maintain law and order, as well as helping to find missing people, including British nationals, the NPCC explained.

The organisation’s lead for international policing, Chief Constable Andy Marsh, said: “We received offers of support from officers across the country as soon as this crisis began.

“These officers, and the many others who volunteered, signify our commitment to help those in need and humanitarian instinct of the British police force, no matter where in the world.”