RBR Coastguard gets numbers boost
The new Royal Bermuda Regiment Coastguard is to recruit five more soldiers, it was revealed today.
Renee Ming, the national security minister, said the new full-time positions would be backed by an increased number of part-time soldiers to ensure that the unit could “provide the coverage required to meet its international obligations and support other agencies who operate in our surrounding maritime area.”
Ms Ming added Coastguard personnel were drawn from the ranks of serving soldiers as well new recruits selected for their physical and mental fitness and nautical ability.
She said: “Although the ultimate goal is to secure our Exclusive Economic Zone with 24 full-time Coastguard personnel, the unit will now have the resources to effectively manage inshore waters out to 12-plus nautical miles, which is where a number of safety and security concerns have been identified.”
Ms Ming added the Coastguard was seeking international accreditation and has worked with the UK’s Royal Navy and other services to strengthen its capabilities.
She said: “The ultimate goal is to work in collaboration in regional initiatives with our Overseas Territories partners.
Ms Ming was speaking as she outlined the budget plan for the next financial year.
She said the ministry had “prudently scaled back”, although it had been given one of the largest Budget allocations at $112.6 million, a five per cent decrease of the last financial year.
Ms Ming highlighted the Disaster Risk Reduction and Mitigation unit and the Gang Violence Reduction team as priorities.
She said the DRRM would be boosted with disaster management legislation and the establishment of a specialist section in the national security ministry.
Ms Ming added: “It will also codify the Emergency Measures Organisation and establish the DRRM section as the coordinators for the emergency planning, training, exercising and response for all facets of the legislation.”
She said DRRM’s remit included assistance with security and safety planning at the airport, work on a plan for the safe return of cruise ships to Bermuda and cybersecurity measures.
Ms Ming added gang violence work would be funded to support a schools programme designed to “teach life skills aimed at addressing antisocial behaviour and crime”, as well as the Hype Kings scheme set up to reduce risk factors and increase academic motivation in young people.
The Redemption programme, which provides job placement and skills training and the Work Placement and Mentoring Initiative, a paid scheme designed to give at-risk youngsters opportunities for career exploration and skills development.
Ms Ming said: “The GVRT continues to be an important force in tackling gang violence.
“The team’s goal is not only to bring peace and harmony within the various communities, but to assist with helping our vulnerable young people, individuals and families become thriving members of our society.”
Ms Ming said that, although she was “disappointed” that the Bermuda Fire & Rescue Service and the Prison Officers’ Association did not accept the Government’s 10 per cent pay cut for the public sector last year, the two services had been given extra capital spending.
The BFRS will get a new ambulance and the prison service will get cash to fix “long-standing” maintenance problems in the prison system.