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

A police spokesperson said: “The three-day meeting was attended by Government Ministers and law enforcement representatives from the CARICOM member States, as well as US Leads from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Homeland Security (HSI).

“Dr Horace Chang the (CONSLE) Chair, who also performs the dual roles as Jamaica’s Deputy Leader and Minister for National Security, stated that the meeting was an opportunity to examine solutions to discuss complex challenges facing the CARICOM region, with a singular focus, as well as to explore ways to strengthen existing frameworks and partnerships.

“He identified four priority areas that are of common security interest to Member States.”

These are:

  • Firearms Trafficking,
  • Cyber Security
  • Trafficking in Persons and
  • Maritime Security

“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 (+500,000 pounds) of assorted tuna was removed from the Caribbean Sea by unauthorized international fisherman. The dual threat of land and sea criminality with conservative estimates as high as 10 percent of member states GDP potentially being lost.

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

“The Chair, Dr Chang, noted that four (4) CARICOM states are currently included in the world’s top10 for homicide rates per 100,000 residents. He spoke about the scourge of firearms within the Caribbean Region and the effect this has on the quality of life, namely people, the environment and the economy. Despite there being no firearms manufacturers in any of the member states, 70 percent 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.”

ACOP Daniels stated: “There is a continuous requirement for Bermuda law enforcement agencies to strengthen their relationships with our Caribbean and U.S 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.”

Mr. Daniels added: “Despite the scale/scope of issues differing in terms of volume, many of the root causes of violence and community impact are identical. Bermuda has already experienced 8 murders in 2022 alone, and 11 persons killed within a 12- month period with the use of either a firearm [6] or bladed instrument [5], both unprecedented since the recording of annual statistics began.

“Although violence in our society is complex, wider community problem and not solely a law enforcement one, the BPS 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.”

The spokesperson added: “Minister Weeks was pleased to have attended the workshop with ACOP Daniels and found the sessions extremely informative. Meeting other Island leaders and discussing common issues amongst the Islands, was very helpful, particularly as we fine tune our strategy for tackling violence and anti-social behaviour in Bermuda.”