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Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 31, 2017 (SKNIS): The strengthening of the country’s borders is of utmost importance, says Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris during a press conference held at Government Headquarters on May 31.

To this end, Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise Department is implementing a number of measures that will hinder criminal activity.

“When intelligence of a credible threat exists, enhance searches of cargo are undertaken to ensure that no hidden contraband has been secreted in the shipments,” said the prime minister.

As such, the K-9 Unit, which specializes in searching for guns and drugs, has been expanded with an addition of three dogs. This brings the total of K-9 Unit officers to 12.

The prime minister said that there has also been greater collaboration and intelligence sharing between the law enforcement agencies- the Customs and Excise Department, Coastguard and the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF).  

It was just in January 2017 when Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Kennedy De Silva said on “Working for You” that collaboration was identified as a key component to fulfill the department’s mission of protecting the nation from the potential risks arising from international travel and trade, while facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods across the border.

The Customs and Excise Department is often seen as a member of the joint security forces, which also include the RSCNPF and the St. Kitts-Nevis Defense Force.

With regards to citizens sharing information, the Customs Department will have an app available on Google’s Play Store where citizens can anonymously provide tips to the department and can express concerns they may have about an officer’s behavior.

“So, if you think they are allowing the revenue to get away to their friends and neighbors, then we now have an app in which you can report that undetected,” said Prime Minister Harris. “If you think they are doing other wrong things the app also will suffice for that. And if you think they are doing a wonderful job we also want you to use the app to extend commendations.”

Prime Minister Harris reported that the department’s hardware will be further strengthened with greater intelligence gathering with partners in the United States Law Enforcement Agencies.

The department envisions becoming a leading organization through its core values, being flexible to change, embracing new innovations and concepts and investing in its most essential resource through continual training and staff development. It will implement strategies to promote public outreach and achieve business results.

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