Team of six tasked with improving national security
Review designed to give ‘outside look’ at inter-agency communications, ability to counter armed violence and law enforcement on the ocean
By Gareth Finighan
A newly-formed committee tasked with seeking ways of improving national security will begin work shortly and report its findings to Government by November.
At a press conference at Government House, Governor George Fergusson introduced the six-person panel, which will be chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Leo Mills.
The other members are former Police Commissioner Jonathan Smith, former MP Louise Jackson, Cheryl-Ann Lister, Ralph Richardson and George Jones.
Public Safety Minister Michael Dunkley said that, although each of the Island’s defence and security agencies — the Police, Regiment, Fire & Rescue Service, HM Customs and the Department of Marine & Ports — “works well and plays a vital role”, it was hoped the review “will identify logical synergies and chart a working framework that eliminates any duplication of effort and recommends tasks that best suit the strengths and resources of all”.
“One obvious area for consideration is the maritime aspect of our border control,” Mr Dunkley said. “There are significant opportunities to strengthen our operations at sea and to increase our interdictive presence in the fight against guns, gangs, drugs and violence.”
The committee will seek “the most effective and efficient way to deliver the security and safety services for which a need has been identified, which organisations should deliver them and how cooperation between them should best be organised”.
It will examine the security of the Island’s borders, with a focus on drug smuggling and the illegal importation of guns, and will also look at how Bermuda’s natural resources, including fisheries and mineral resources, can be protected.
How the Island can cope with the threat of natural disaster will also come under the committee’s remit, as will threats of armed violence from external sources, management of public disorder and to enforcement of the law on the water.
But Mr Dunkley stressed it will not examine the pros and cons of Regiment conscription, which Government has pledged to abolish.
“The committee will consider Bermuda’s security needs post-conscription in keeping with this Government’s promise to grow the full-time component of the Bermuda Regiment,” Mr Dunkley said.
Mr Dunkley praised security agencies, but added that a review would provide “an outside look” at how they can cooperate with each other in order to be more effective.
Premier Craig Cannonier, who was also at yesterday’s press conference, added: “I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to the members of the Review Committee who have been charged with taking a strategic look at all of Bermuda’s security and defence requirements to ensure that they are being met and will continue to be met in the future.
“The review will consider the most effective and efficient way to deliver the security and safety services for our Island, which organisations should deliver them and how cooperation between them should best be organised — and then make their recommendations. An interesting area of this review focuses on the protection of our maritime borders, particularly from an economic standpoint.
“In a time where we have seen other countries around the world crossing borders to plunder marine resources and harvesting a variety of fish and other marine species, in my opinion, this review could not be more timely.
“The enforcement and protection of our own Exclusive Economic Zone is something that we believe is forward thinking and it is something that this Government truly welcomes and supports.”
Committee Chairman Mr Mills said his team will be seeking input from the public and stakeholders “so that we can have the benefit of their advice in this wide-ranging exercise”.
Leo Mills: A longtime civil servant and lawyer, Mr Mills rose to the rank of Cabinet Secretary, then resumed his legal career before retirement last year. Mr Mills will act as chairman of the committee.
Louise Jackson: Former teacher and MP, Mrs Jackson retired from politics at the last general election after representing the United Bermuda Party and then the One Bermuda Alliance speaking for the then-Opposition on health and seniors.
Jonathan Smith: Mr Smith is a former Commissioner of Police who has also represented the Progressive Labour Party in the Senate.
Cheryl-Ann Lister: A chartered financial analyst, Ms Lister served as the chief executive officer of the Bermuda Monetary Authority for seven years.
She is a consultant to the Bermuda Ministry of Justice on matters relating to anti-money laundering and antiterrorism financing.
Ralph Richardson: Businessman Mr Richardson is a former marine pilot and past Commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. He is a vice president at Cirrus Dynamics and co-owner of Winsome Holdings Ltd.
George Jones: Major Jones served as second-in-command of the Bermuda Regiment up until 2011.
He has also been a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team member since 2006, and has been trained by the UN in Panama and Chile.