JIS News

The Jamaica Customs Department has implemented several of the recommendations put forward by stakeholders during a series of consultations last year.
Among those implemented are: the strengthening of intelligence through establishment of the investigation and analysis units of the border protection division; the recruitment of confidential informants, and the strengthening of the risk analysis unit. On the electronic side, intelligence has been beefed up through the use of computers and data capture software. Also, the e-manifest was implemented and is fully operational in Kingston.
This is outlined in the Department’s stakeholders consultation Report for 2009, which was made public at a stakeholders symposium, held in observance of Customs Week 2010, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, in Downtown Kingston, on January 27.
The document notes that scanners have been installed at the Norman Manley International and the Sangster International Airports, and there has been additional deployment of Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) officers to the main airports and sea ports to conduct random checks and profile passengers. The CET has been engaged in confiscating illegal contraband, inclusive of cigarettes, liquor and skin-bleaching agents.
Advanced risk assessment of vessels has been another point of focus. This is now being facilitated through the Department’s contacts with other countries in the region, and through the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council (CCLEC) network, the report said. Meanwhile, a proposal has been put forward for the Port Security Corps to be taken over by Customs and for the Corps to be properly trained to perform this function.
In addition, a 1-800-corrupt line has been established and is operational, and the internal affairs section established within the border protection unit has been performing creditably.
Swift communication of potential threats is now being achieved through networking with the Jamaica Defence Force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and other overseas counterparts, the report notes. Fibre optic cable is now in place linking Customs and Fiscal Services, Universal Freight Handlers, Adolph Levy Warehouse, Kingston Wharves, Kingston Container Terminal, and all Berths.
Preliminary data gathering has started for a plan of action to be undertaken by the Risk Management and Intelligence Analysis Unit. This is in the event of any internal or external terrorist threat. There has been individualised training to ensure that everyone understands a threat. To this end, various sections of the Border Protection Unit in Kingston and Montego Bay are being trained in their specialised functions in how to recognise and interpret potential threats, the report notes.
Reliable intelligence links have been developed with countries in the region, which now allow Customs to receive daily correspondence and updates from most countries.
The United States model of border protection is being adopted through this type of networking. Customer Service has also been improved with a centralised cashiering and manifest area at Kingston Wharves. This is in addition to a customer service centre and a Custom House to address queries, solve problems, and simplify document inspection and processing. The processing of refunds has been streamlined to allow this service to be delivered more quickly, and training of officers in customer service continues.
Customs Week is being observed from January 23 to 29 under the theme: ‘Customs and Business: Improving Performance through Partnership’.