Turks and Caicos – Thursday 3rd August, 2017 – Providenciales – His Excellency the Governor, Dr John Freeman, and the Hon. Premier, Mrs Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, co-chaired a meeting of the TCI National Security Council (NSC) on Friday, 28 July, at the Hon. Hilly Ewing Building in Providenciales.
In attendance as members of the NSC were the Hon. Deputy Premier, Mr Sean Astwood; Her Excellency the Deputy Governor, Mrs Anya Williams; the Hon. Attorney-General, Mrs Rhondalee Braithwaite-Knowles; and the Commissioner of Police, Mr James Smith. The Superintendent of HM Prison, Mr Steve Barrett, also attended the meeting to up-date the NSC on the situation at HM Prison.
At this meeting, the NSC:
· Received a security up-date from the Commissioner of Police on:
– Crime statistics for the period April-June 2017 which showed that overall crime incidents across TCI had decreased by 15% with burglaries down by 56% when compared to the same period last year. However, arrests for possession of drugs had risen significantly as had the number of robberies and incidents involving firearms;
– Recent successes in the fight against crime including on joint operations with partners on illegal migration;
– Challenges facing the RTCIPF, particularly the problem of controlling people entering TCI and illegal migrants in the country;
– Recent senior appointments and promotions in the RTCIPF and on future recruitment as well as on a proposed new structure for the police force;
– The RTCIF proposed strategic plan to address the challenges faced by the nation which focused on the four pillars of prevention, intervention, enforcement and rehabilitation. The NSC agreed to discuss the strategic plan in more detail at its next meeting on 14 August and to decide.
· Received an up-date from the Deputy Premier on:
– Improvements that are being made to procedures and processes to eliminate alleged corruption in the Ministry of Border Control and Employment. The Deputy Governor explained that similar processes are being implemented across TCIG.
– Joint operations with the RTCIPF on intercepting illegal migrants which were generally working well. More staff were being recruited to the Task Force to improve TCI’s interception and enforcement capability. Technical up-grades were also being introduced to improve the capability of the radar station to detect illegal sloops;
– Introduction of the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) which was expected to be approved at the next sitting of the House of Assembly;
– Proposals announced in the House of Assembly for the temporary suspension of visa applications and first time work permits to enable the Ministry to clear backlogs and to assess and improve immigration control processes. It was proposed that an enforcement drive would commence from 14 August to identify and repatriate illegal migrants from TCI. The NSC highlighted the need for early engagement and consultation with all the relevant agencies and organisations who would be involved in the enforcement drive.
· Received an up-date from the Superintendent of HM Prison on the continuing problems at the prison and measures taken to address them. At the request of the Premier, the Superintendent presented an overview of a strategic plan which he had drawn up to highlight areas of concern, associated risks and mitigations needed to address them. The NSC called for the strategic plan to be circulated to all members of the NSC for detailed discussion and assessment of the issues and mitigations at its next meeting on 14 August.
· Received and had a preliminary discussion of the Security Needs Assessment Report for TCI sponsored by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Whilst many of the identified priorities and recommendations mirrored existing TCIG security objectives, the report would serve as a key input in the development of a TCI National Security Strategy, the development of which the NSC committed itself to;
· Received an update from the Attorney General on the completion of the anti-money laundering and prevention of terrorism financing National Risk Assessment which would be presented to the Cabinet for final approval at its next meeting.