Officer wanted for sun, palm trees and crack

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The Independent Online

Your new workplace is the Caribbean island of Jamaica. Your office overlooks a tropical garden, complete with palm trees, swimming pool, flowering mimosa and manicured lawn. And you are guaranteed plenty of sun, fresh fruit and a chance to meet exotic people in a vibrant atmosphere.

Your new workplace is the Caribbean island of Jamaica. Your office overlooks a tropical garden, complete with palm trees, swimming pool, flowering mimosa and manicured lawn. And you are guaranteed plenty of sun, fresh fruit and a chance to meet exotic people in a vibrant atmosphere.

It sounds like the dream job, except this new post is not for a travel rep or lifeguard, but for an officer from the Metropolitan Police. In the next three months a Scotland Yard detective will be sent to Jamaica to join the band of British police officers who work abroad, spreading this country's expertise in law enforcement and intelligence gathering.

But despite the exotic-sounding job description, the Caribbean posting is not a cushy number. The selected officer will work in Kingston, one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the world. He or she will also gather information about the ruthless "Yardie" gangsters who have been travelling to Britain to spread their deadly mix of gun law and crack cocaine.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Hugh Orde, the head of Operation Trident, the inquiry set up to combat drug and gun- related violence in London that has led to the murder of 26 people, dismissed talk of lounging around pool-sides, sipping cocktails. "This is not an easy posting. Having visited Kingston, it's one of the most difficult, and at times dangerous, policing environments I have ever experienced," he said. "Kingston can be a fairly violent, threatening place. A lot of people are killed there."

He said the worsening economic climate on the island was pushing home-grown drug criminals to Britain. "Some of them have arrived and murdered and raped and robbed."

The new Jamaican posting, which will go to an officer with the rank of inspector, has been agreed after widespread discussion with the island's authorities. The officer will work from the British High Commission in mid-town Kingston. He or she will gather intelligence about Jamaican criminals and routes being used to smuggle drugs into the UK.

The need for a permanent post on the island follows the explosion of Jamaican-related violence that has been seen throughout Britain, but concentrated in London, over the last three years. Since Operation Trident began in March 1998, 26 people have been charged in connection with 17 murders and seven people have been charged with attempted murder. In the most recent case four people were convicted last month of murder.

There have been more than 200 arrests, with 25 guns and 105 rounds of ammunition being seized. Forty-seven kilograms of cocaine and 15kg of heroin have been recovered.

Developing countries and some stricken by war have a particular appetite to learn from the British bobby. Perhaps one of the most unusual outposts is Lesotho, the African republic surrounded by South Africa, where a British officer has been stationed for few years. Also in Africa there are advisers working in Botswana and the Eastern Cape in South Africa.