11 April 2017
Assistant Chief Minister, Senator Paul Routier, has made the following statement:
It is a source of regret that the relationship between the RNLI and St Helier lifeboat crew has reached this stage.
Public safety is government’s priority and we value the service provided by the RNLI, Jersey Fire and Rescue, the Coastguard and other rescue organisations. We want our lifeboats to be crewed by committed, local volunteers who know Jersey’s waters; however, we are reassured by the actions of the RNLI in providing cover for St Helier while their internal disciplinary procedure regarding one individual proceeds.
The RNLI has contacted the St Helier crew and is maintaining regular contact with government officials. I have spoken to the RNLI’s Director of Community Lifesaving and Fundraising, Leesa Harwood, and have asked that the RNLI work with the St Helier crew to facilitate a return to their duties, so they can continue the work that is so highly valued by Islanders.
I expressed strong support for the local crew and the disappointment of our community at the situation. This was accepted and as a Director of the RNLI, Ms Harwood assures me that every effort is being made to repair relationships with the crew and wider community while their disciplinary process continues.
It would be prudent to await the outcome of the RNLI’s internal procedures before considering the possibility of an independent review. I have spoken with the local RNLI Chairman, who supports this approach.
The RNLI provides an excellent service which Islanders have supported for decades, indeed centuries, whether by crewing the boat, volunteering, fundraising or donating. Supporting lifeboats is in our blood and we feel passionately about the service. I would therefore ask the crew to return to their positions while this dispute is being resolved.