Saturday, 30 July 2011 02:29
By news release
Antigua St John's - Officials from Antigua & Barbuda, in collaboration with the Organization of America States (OAS), recently wrapped up two 14-day courses from June 27 - July 8, in Customs Enforcement/Intelligence Training and Advance Port Security/Customs Officer course.
Participants were comprised of officers from various law enforcement agencies Customs & Exercise, Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy, Royal Police Force, Defence Force, immigration, Port Authority, Sectracon Security, and Jolly Harbour Security.
At the opening ceremony, Director of Halcrow, Alan Westerman, said “the next 28 days would be an interactive discussion between agencies. Port security would be strengthened as a result of the cross-pollination of the understanding by law enforcement agencies of the duties and responsibilities that affect Port Security.”
He noted that since tourism is Antigua & Barbuda's main industry, it is significant that security operations at the port comply with the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code. Workers therefore need to be familiar with the security requirements.
The training was provided by Miami-based security firm Halcrow.
Also participating at the opening ceremony was Lt Col Edward Croft, director of the ONDCP, and the National Point of Contact to the Inter American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) at the OAS. He said, “I encourage you the participants to demonstrate a commitment to learning and ensure that you capitalize on the training provided which will be of benefit to you and your respective organizations."
Lt Col Croft added that it is important for each stakeholder to be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of each other, with a view to avoiding conflict and strengthening port security in accordance with the requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
At the beginning of the training, participants were given several objectives to include the importance of the ISPS code, to understand the various international efforts to increase port security (C-TPAT, CSI, ISPS/IMO, MTSA/USCG, capacity building, STAR initiative, WCO Framework), to conduct proper and effective luggage, aircraft, and vessel examinations, and finally to inspect the interior and the exteriors of empty and loaded containers required for safe shipment following the basic techniques of the seven-point inspection.
The objectives of both courses were highlighted in the areas of defining the types of terrorist methods, weapons used, incidents response and how they affect trade. It also highlighted the understanding of the five phases of the intelligence cycle, techniques used to circumvent security measures, knowledge of emergency procedures/contingency plans and the importance of port facility security officers to Antigua and Barbuda.
The course modules covered several subject areas including:
1. Port Security Awareness
3. Behavior Analysis and Interview Techniques
4. Passenger selectivity and concealment methods
5. Internal Conspiracies
The closing ceremony for the training was held at the Antigua State College on July 8, when 75 participants received certificates. Presenting remarks on behalf of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda were Sandra Joseph, permanent secretary (Ag) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who delivered the feature address, and Lt Col Edward Croft, who presented remarks and was also the master of ceremonies.
Present also was the OAS Resident Representative Jean Dormeus, who delivered remarks and presented the participants with certificates, along with Alan Westerman, director of Halcrow, who thanked the participants for their involvement and said he was grateful to have provided the training.
Lt Col Croft recalled engaging the OAS since 2009 to look at the possibility of facilitating this assessment and training when he learned that other countries were beneficiaries of similar training. This he stressed would have had a positive impact on the skill sets of our nation, focusing on the area of enhanced Port and Maritime Security. In addressing the participants directly, he said,
“You are here since you were selected by your respective agencies and you all have a role to play in securing the country’s borders. You now possess the skills that will enable you to better execute your responsibilities and implement the necessary procedures to considerably improve Port security. Each of you must respect each other and each other’s department because we all know there is truth in the old adage that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. Your direct input is required to strengthen the security mechanism and to provide the safeguards which will guarantee that Antigua and Barbuda is seen as a destination of choice for the conduct of trade, business and tourism.”
The permanent secretary, in her remarks, began by conveying the government’s appreciation to the OAS for its continued support, and further expressed delight that Halcrow was contracted to provide the assessment and training to ensure Antigua and Barbuda Port Security was considerably enhanced in accordance with the requirements of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.
She stressed to the participants the importance that every effort be undertaken to ensure that any vulnerabilities identified are adequately addressed. She further challenged the participants to develop a better understanding of their duties and responsibilities and to develop networks and relationships amongst the agencies to strengthen the sharing of information.
She also recognised Lt Col Croft, for his vision in bringing the training to Antigua and Barbuda and for being the conduit through which this course was facilitated. Acknowledgement was also made of the contribution and support of Jason Roberts of the Port Authority and Wayne Mykoo of the Department of Marine Services for their commitment, support and direct involvement in ensuring the success of this training.
The PS indicated her distinct pleasure for the financial support received from the Department of Marine Services for facilitating the provision of refreshments for the participants, and further encouraged the participants to implement the appropriate measures to enhance port security.
The director of the ONDCP said he was pleased to collaborate with the OAS, Halcrow, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide specialized training opportunities in an effort to enhance the human capacity of law enforcement entities, and by extension strengthen security at ports of entry in Antigua & Barbuda.