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National Intelligence Agency needed

The Island needs its own National Intelligence Agency to take on organised crime and “prolific priority offenders”, according to the independent National Security and Defence Review released on Friday.

And the Department of Corrections has issues requiring “urgent improvement”, including “breaches of the facilities' perimeters, the infiltration of drugs and other contraband into the facilities and ongoing gang rivalries and activity within the facilities”.

The review was tabled in the House of Assembly by National Security Minister Michael Dunkley.

It was created by a committee under former Cabinet Secretary Leo Mills, commissioned in May of last year by Governor George Fergusson.

Among the committee's other recommendations were better surveillance for Corrections, stamping down on smuggling of contraband and putting in place a contingency plan for the emergency housing of inmates.

The review cited rising gun crime and global terrorism as reasons for an overall reappraisal of the Island's security plans.

Factors with the potential to affect Bermuda's national security ranged from ending conscription, rioting, hurricanes and major fires such as those on cruise ships.

The report recommended a review of the Regiment's role in the aftermath of conscription, which it advised should be gradually phased out.

The Emergency Measures Organisation should be more streamlined and capable of responding to spontaneous threats, the report added — and disaster preparation and response should be augmented with the founding of a National Disaster Planning Office. The Island also needs a network of emergency relief centres.

The report called for an broader mandate for HM Customs, better screening of passengers and goods coming to the Island, and better marine surveillance from the Island's West End — plus mandatory Marine Automatic Identification for vessels travelling beyond the reef line.

It also recommended that the Marine Police be allocated to a different organisation, along with ordnance disposal and search and rescue diving — either to the Regiment, a different Government agency, or the private sector.

The Bermuda Fire Service's “ongoing shortage of personnel” must be addressed, the report said, and its ability to tackle a major fire on board a cruise ship needs to be reviewed.

Meanwhile, the “mechanical liability” of the Island's ambulance fleet was deemed to be “poor”.

Other suggestions included a national plan for climate change, and stronger protections against cyber crime.

Under food security, the report recommended Bermuda investigate developing a commercial fishery industry with an onshore processing plant.

The Island should have a National Weather Service, as the current Bermuda Weather Service is a private entity — and Bermuda should invest in a back-up Doppler Radar System.

“There is need for further research into the efficacy of, and potential use of, an audible early warning system that could be used in conjunction with any emergency response to prepare the Island for an approaching disaster of significant magnitude,” the report added.

“There were recurring concerns expressed by presenters that the Island was not currently well served in terms of warnings for unexpected severe weather or a disaster that could occur at almost no notice.”

Mr Dunkley told MPs that Government, in conjunction with Government House, would set out its position on the report “in the coming weeks”.

Minister of National Security Michael Dunkley

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Published March 21, 2014 at 5:23 pm (Updated March 23, 2014 at 4:19 pm)

National Intelligence Agency needed

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