Police to control port security as early as August
June 14, 2013

Police to control port security as early as August

The security of the ports around the country, could be under the control of the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) as early as August this year.{{more}}

Bishen John, Manager of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, that the office of the Commissioner of Police is in the final stages of developing its security plan for the ports, as preparations are made for the transition from port police officers to members of the constabulary.

“A policy decision has been taken that the security of the ports should be handed over to the Commissioner of Police,” John said.

“This is not a new model that we are trying. It has been working in Grenada and St Lucia for some time now, and this goes back to efficiency.

“Most port authorities are not equipped to handle and properly administer a security force efficiently, bearing in mind that our main focus is moving cargo; whether cargo is considered as break bulk, container or even tourism cargo, that is our main core business area, so we are just going to pass them over to the Commissioner of Police.

“They have indicated that they would be ready to take up the position. They have persons that they, prior to this, had shortlisted for entrance in the police force, so they have indicated that would be ready.”

John spoke to SEARCHLIGHT moments before a meeting with the Public Service Union, which represents the more than 80 individuals, who make up the port police.

He said that the Union would be verbally informed of the decision at the meeting, and along with other relevant authorities, will be given official letters outlining the decision which was made.

The port manager said that provision has been made for current port police officers to apply for positions in the regular force, and he expects that persons would be accepted based on their training and experience.

“We expect that… all would apply, because they do have a chance. No restrictions have been placed that I know of, from the Commissioner’s office. The hiring would be done by the Commissioner, if he needs information from us, we will provide the information that he requests,” he pointed out.

John noted that two existing positions within the port police would remain: Chief of Port Police and Port Facility Safety Officer, both held by former Assistant Commissioner of Police Lenroy Brewster.

In April this year, members of the port police reportedly staged a sick out, as a means of highlighting their concerns about work conditions.

John said that the events that took place were not the only factors which led to the transition, but it played a significant role.

He said the transition to have the port police come under the office of the Commissioner of Police had been in the pipeline for some time.

“I would say that the incident would have highlighted the importance of having the security of the port secured by an entity that has redundancies in place.

“I think that is one of the factors, the fact that there are no redundancies in place and if something were to happen worse, the country as a whole, would have been affected and not just the port authority, it would have been a national issue.

“So I think that [the industrial action] would have brought to the fore that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

John cited the Port Authority Act of 2009, CAP 362, section 95 (4), which states: “The Commissioner of Police Shall have the general command and superintendence of the port police.”