TORTOLA — Royal Police Force Commissioner Michael Matthews has given prisoners, particularly those who committed serious crimes, 24 hours to return to Her Majesty’s Prison in Balsam Ghut.

“It is true that during the hurricane, Her Majesty’s Prison at Balsam Ghut, was compromised,” Matthews said on a ZBVI radio address on Tuesday. “The fences are down. The roof was lost and a number of prisoners did escape. Not all prisoners have escaped and the number of the prisoners vary almost on an almost daily basis, where some prisoners having gone out, checked their families and come back.”

He said others have realized the devastation throughout the territory and realized that they were better off where they were at the prison.

“Either way, I’m now appealing, not only to those escaped convicts, but to their families, their friends and their relatives, who are listening to this broadcast. The message is very simple. Do not make it worse for yourself. In the next 24 hours you have an opportunity to return to that prison. I’m giving you that opportunity and I appeal to you to do the right thing, do the sensible thing, get yourself back up to the prison.”

Matthews said they are putting plans and resources in place to assure proper care for people who are incarcerated to ensure that they are fed and looked after.

“You will only make matters worse for yourself, if you continue to wander around the community and act as if you are entitled to your freedom,” he said.

The commissioner also that the curfew hours have been extended. The hours are now 6 p.m. to 9 a.m., daily until further notice. He said this is for nonessential workers to get off the street and get home safely to get the roads clear.

He said this is for the public’s safety and to ensure that the efforts of the critical workers who are out there working to get roads cleared, electricity restored, clearing the damaged cars, pylons and rubbish, and trying to get phones back up and running, is not compromised.

“You’re not helping by being out on the road,” he said. “You’re not helping creating large ques for gas. I understand the need, but arrangements are being put in place now to ensure feeding, distribution of relief supplies, to ensure our supermarkets remain safe, to ensure fuel remain arriving in the territory, to ensure water remains in the territory. But we are being hampered in our efforts, by too many people out on the streets during the hours of darkness.”