During January’s Standing Finance Committee deliberations, Director of Public Prosecutions Kim Hollis requested funding for two additional attorneys in her office.
But the 2017 budget document suggests that lawmakers chose not to grant her request.
According to a report on the SFC deliberations, which are not public, Ms. Hollis told the SFC that her office currently is entitled to three senior Crown counsels and five Crown counsels, but was requesting that lawmakers allocate money to hire one more of each due to the rising level of serious offences in the territory.
However, the budget indicates that Ms. Hollis’s office will continue to employ the same numbers of counsels.
This is despite Financial Secretary Neil Smith saying during the budget deliberations that he did not have a problem providing Ms. Hollis with the two additional employees, according to the SFC report.
However, the office may get some assistance anyway: Governor John Duncan appears to have decided to provide some funding to the agency using his reserve powers.
After Mr. Duncan publicly announced last month that he planned to tap into central government coffers to fund national security initiatives, an e-mail he sent to Mr. Smith describing where the funds were going was reportedly leaked to Virgin Island News Online.
One of his bullet points mentioned $150,000 plus travel expenses to appoint a Queen’s counsel to prosecute a trial on behalf of the Crown.
Also during the SFC deliberations, the DPP requested an additional $100,000 for office and staff security. It is not clear whether that money was budgeted, and attempts to reach Ms. Hollis were unsuccessful.
She also requested another $100,000 to host a regional conference in honour of her office’s 10th anniversary.
Such a conference would bring experts from abroad to speak in the Virgin Islands, she explained, noting she had already secured an agreement to attend from the chief justice of England and Wales, as well as other English jurists.
The SFC report notes that Ms. Hollis said the “objective of the conference would be to give counsels with the DPP’s [Office] highly specialist exposure and future access to those leaders.”
She also mentioned that other DPPs, attorneys general and senior lawyers from around the region would be invited to the conference, which the budget document indicates would be scheduled for June.
No line-item amount for the conference is listed in the budget, though $50,600 is listed under the DPP’s Office for “entertainment,” an increase of $50,000 in the category from the previous year.