Customs and immigration merger to shape new border force

| 16/03/2018 | 26 Comments

(CNS): The Cayman Islands Government is moving ahead with the plans for a national border force, merging the enforcement elements of immigration and customs. Premier Alden McLaughlin said that when it is complete, the country will have a single border force agency with staff trained to better protect the sea and airports and to focus on preventing illicit drugs, guns and people landing illegally in the Cayman Islands. With growing concerns about the increase in violent crime and burglaries, McLaughlin told the Legislative Assembly this week that his government was taking action in multiple ways, including this new agency. 

He said the project for a new national border protection agency was moving forward “as a matter of urgency”, with the assistance of UK border expert Colin Brown, who arrived in Cayman in January on secondment from the UK’s Border Force National Targeting Centre. McLaughlin said Brown has been working with the steering committee charged with the planning and eventual implementation of the merger.

The premier stated that modern law enforcement and border protection agencies do not focus on searching suitcases and containers but rely on intelligence and targeting practices that are more successful than searches alone. “This is where we are going,” McLaughlin said, as he pointed to the cross-training going on with immigration and customs staff, who are already participating in joint operations.

“Over the next six months we will start seeing a single uniform for some staff and a fully joined up Cayman border force should be in place for the start of the 2019 financial year, which is January,” he said, adding that the government was committed to the project and work was ongoing to make it a reality.

The government is also creating a Cayman Islands Coast Guard, which will have a multifaceted role including search and rescue, patrolling the seas and also helping in the crime fight by aiding in the prevention of illegal guns, people, and drugs being smuggled into the Cayman Islands.

“The Coast Guard will have the ability to board and search vessels in our waters and make arrests if needed,” McLaughlin explained in his statement to the house this week. “We have obtained the services of Mr Phil Bostock, who is a commander in the UK’s Maritime and Coast Guard Agency who has also been on the ground from January to assist in the development of the Coast Guard.”

He said the Coast Guard will be as independent as possible with a local commander, “who we are hoping will be a Caymanian”, he added. “It will be properly resourced and we will ensure that it will be structured in such a way so as not to have its resources poached for other law enforcement work.”

McLaughlin indicated that government intends to put in place operational policies as well as the necessary legislation by the end of the year. “Major assets will be budgeted for in the 2020 budget cycle,” the premier said, adding that this was a “major undertaking but we are moving as swiftly as we can”.

Meanwhile, officials from government issued a release this week that police, immigration and customs officers were involved in a document identification workshop hosted by the Department of Immigration (DOI) recently where Desmond Davis and Monique Lyn Quee from the Registrar General’s Department (RGD) in Jamaica explained how to spot forged documents.

“The key objective of the workshop was to strengthen aspects of border security through training, coupled with enhancing agency capabilities in recognising fraudulent or manipulated documents. It also aimed to prevent criminals from using those documents to commit crimes,” said Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith.

Officers were shown examples of illicit documents, along with case studies and scenarios. The workshop’s presenters identified major document types, discussed security features of the most used documents and highlighted areas to inspect when examining a document.

“Fraudulent documents are used to facilitate terrorism, smuggling, drug trafficking, immigration violations, and many other crimes,” Smith stated, “Cross-border trainings like this strengthen relationships between frontline officers, and helps promote the kind of harmonised border management practices that are needed to combat these crimes and keep our borders safe.”

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Category: Crime, Crime Prevention, Customs, Police

Comments (26)

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  1. Dan says:

    Surely the coastguard would be better reporting to the New Border protection service rather than the police?

  2. Anonymous says:

    So we need to spend probably millions on a new ‘coastguard’. Anyone noticed how the current regime is rolling in one canoe after another??? I am guessing separating the marine unit from the RCIPS will actually have a detrimental effect given their current focus

  3. Anonymous says:

    UHM who is gonna be the boss of this new department? Please say Chuckie and not Eric Bush! Just wondering if the rest of Cayman is awake like I am….

  4. Anonymous says:

    there wouldn’t be a huge supply line unless there was a HUGE DEMAND? i wonder in these people /users know of the dangers to health in using such drugs????? i hear the processing of cocain uses famaluhyde and gasoline along with acid? would you all deliberately snort you car battery contents? i can guarantee their nose bridge/ cartilage is eaten away ….and the have lung problems and with brain damage???

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  5. Anonymous says:

    Leave dem ganja boys alone!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Good idea, but sounds similar to some other merges in the past where they gave different names to the same agency. We need Border Protection but simply Painting COAST GUARD over boats that say marine unit and giving different uniforms to the same people isn’t going to achieve much. This has to be properly managed or it will become just another way to stretch the budget even thinner. What will happen is that the police will want their own boats, coast guard needs their own boats and they will be at each other.

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  7. Shhhhhhhhhh. says:

    Not quite sure what is going to be new here. Customs as well as Immigration officers have been a part of the Marine Unit for many years. Important questions in my mind are (1) Who will control the “new” Coast Guard Unit?, and (2) How will the relevant intelligence be generated and managed by who? In terms of budgeting, make damn sure that the Coast Guard budget comes no where near the RCIP’s grasp. I am very skeptical of what I am reading, as the multi-disciplinary and multi-departmental aspects of it scare the crap out of me. They have failed to get it together in the past, and are not likely to do so now. I wish the project well, but my cynicism comes from my knowledge of the history. For years the RCIP high command looted the Marine Unit budget for pet projects of CP’s and I see no reason why anything will change. The big question will be who will be managing the new agencies, and hopefully that will not be the usual suspects again. A final word – if the budgetary oversight remains the same, then it will be another bloody security mess piled on top of the existing mess. Rather like Mount Trashmore!! Good luck.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Regarding the Cayman Islands border “sea”. I’m happy there is something being done about it. I think there should be a recruitment process for additional “Caymanian” team members to join the marine officers. There should be a minimum 2 boats at sea during the night time. One on the west side of the Island and one on the east side of the Island. Not saying this will solve the problem but sure will narrow the issue.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Still a piss poor job coming right up

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  10. Patricia Bryan says:

    What about enforcing the background checks to ensure that those who enter “legally” and remain (longer than 1-2 weeks perhaps) are also “legal” elsewhere/other jurisdictions??
    Did they forget of the many who were landed then went on to become employed, some even marrying and forming families, only to be discovered as having shady and/or ‘deceptive’ backgrounds?
    Adding, many countries offer ‘falsified’ police clearances/records. It may be expensive but the unit may have to do what is done in many countries especially the U.S. when applying for work authorization/permission or anything else that entails remaining and living in the country–the government fingerprint and conduct its [own] background check. In Cayman this is only done for Permanent Residence and Caymanian Status applications where Interpol checks are conducted. Do we realize how many years that could mean we have had shady living in the islands’ society (ex-president of UCCI?)?

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  11. JTB says:

    Is there anyone left in Immigration after all the recent suspensions and charges?

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    • Anonymous says:

      The smart ones

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    • Anonymous says:

      Better hope they don’t check the Brac, see them here 8 months and still can’t talk English..

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      • Anonymous says:

        You know the Brac is LAWLESS. Always has been always will be. XXXXXX BTW any news on when or if they plan on reopening the Labour Office??? Its been 4 years and office closed with no representation there for the poor employees. Immigration run by District Admin so what do you expect. None follow the rules there. You are lucky if some even show to work. If you want them you have to go to their homes to find them during working hours.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    shame they did not work this out before they built the airport with separate areas for immigration and customs !

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  13. Anonymous says:

    I smell a crackdown a’commin!

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  14. Anonymous says:

    3:14. A typical CNS comment. Complain about positive things not happening and when they happen complain some more. zzzzzzzzzzz

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  15. Anonymous says:

    Merger with Immigration-Customs ? Somewhat late out of the starters gate on this , most other countries / territories did this years ago .

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