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Similar security challenges across Bermuda and Caribbean

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Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, and Assistant Commissioner of Police Antoine Daniels attended the 24th sitting of the annual meeting of the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) in Montego Bay, Jamaica (Photograph supplied)

An Assistant Commissioner of Police noted “striking similarities” in the challenges faced by Bermuda and Caribbean islands after an international law enforcement conference.

Antoine Daniels and Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, recently attended the 24th meeting of the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Representatives from the Caricom member states, as well as leaders from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, US Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security were at the three-day event.

Mr Daniels said: “There is a continuous requirement for Bermuda law enforcement agencies to strengthen their relationships with our Caribbean and US counterparts, such as CBP/ATF/HIS, as there are striking similarities between the multiple challenges facing the Caribbean and Bermuda, with us all being small island states surrounded by vast expanses of ocean.”

He added: “Despite the scale and, or scope of issues differing in terms of volume, many of the root causes of violence and community impact are identical.

“Bermuda has already experienced eight murders in 2022 alone, and 11 persons killed within a 12-month period with the use of either a firearm – six – or bladed instrument – five – both unprecedented since the recording of annual statistics began.

“Although violence in our society is a complex, wider community problem and not solely a law enforcement one, the Bermuda Police Service and its local partners have an important role to play in an effort to tackle current and emerging threats, ensuring that the most dangerous criminals are targeted, apprehended, prosecuted and incarcerated.”

Horace Chang the CONSLE chairman, who is Jamaica’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, said the meeting was an opportunity to consider solutions and to discuss complex challenges facing the Caricom region.

He added that it was a chance to look at how to strengthen partnerships.

Dr Chang identified four priority areas of common security interest to members, including firearms trafficking, cybersecurity, trafficking in people and maritime security.

A BPS spokesman said: “Although small islands in terms of landmass, there are huge vulnerabilities due to the vast ocean geography.

“Risks are not only associated with the smuggling of firearms and illicit drugs, but also unlawful fishing by international vessels, thus creating a real threat to fishing stocks, with island residents suffering from potential food shortages in future.

“A particular reference was made to a ship that was tracked, targeted and boarded by law enforcement whereby 240 metric tons – more than 500,000 pounds – of assorted tuna was removed from the Caribbean Sea by unauthorised international fisherman.”

He added: “A key and reoccurring theme of the meeting was a heavy emphasis on strengthening partnerships, training, building international alliances, having effective implementation plans, information and intelligence sharing, leveraging technology, having more agility and less bureaucracy and building a framework to deploy existing and any new resources more effectively.”

Dr Chang pointed out that four Caricom states were included in the world’s top ten for homicide rates per 100,000 residents.

He spoke about the scourge of firearms in the Caribbean region and its effect on the quality of life.

The BPS spokesman added: “Despite there being no firearms manufacturers in any of the member states, 70 per cent of Jamaica’s annual average of 1,300 homicides are committed with the use of firearms, that are too easily accessible to organised crime groups, and those individuals intent on causing harm and death.”

Michael Weeks, the Minister of National Security, at a recent community workshop about gang violence (Photograph supplied)

A community violence workshop was held in Bermuda last month, when Mr Weeks said that the island was facing a “crisis” in gang violence.

The national security minister was pleased to have attended the overseas conference with Mr Daniels and found the sessions informative.

He said: “Meeting other island leaders and discussing common issues among the islands was very helpful, particularly as we fine tune our strategy for tackling violence and antisocial behaviour in Bermuda.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include a comment from Mr Weeks.

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Published October 12, 2022 at 6:24 pm (Updated October 13, 2022 at 12:03 pm)

Similar security challenges across Bermuda and Caribbean

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