Wed | May 24, 2017

UK boosting local consular services

Published:Monday | June 8, 2015 | 6:00 AM

The British Government has signalled that fresh initiatives are being undertaken to improve consular services in Jamaica.

Rachel Hill, head of the Policy and Thematic Casework Assistance Department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told The Gleaner that her role is to refine some consular policies in Jamaica.

"It's a fascination to come to Jamaica to see what that looks like here and to make sure that the policies we are making in London fit with what's happening on the ground, and vice versa."

The high commission disclosed that more than 170,000 British nationals pass through Jamaica annually, with more than 17,000 residing in the island.

"We are examining the way the UK delivers consular service," said Hill.

"We are proud of the way we deliver our consular service. I am here to ensure that we get consistent services across the globe," she added.

SMOOTH FLOW

Hill said focus was on ensuring a smooth flow of information from the high commission to London.

"These include the issues that they are facing, their successes and challenges to make sure that they are reflected back in London," she said.

"There is a very strong link between Jamaica and the United Kingdom," said Hill. "I think we see that from the amount of visits of Jamaican nationals to the UK and British nationals coming to Jamaica."

Added Hill: "We see that from the range of agendas in tourism, business and family links that are very strong and growing."

Hill was supported by John Smith, North America and the Caribbean consular regional director.

"We take issues of the Commonwealth seriously," he said.

"We think it is an important organisation and we are looking to continue to develop from strength to strength," he added.

Smith said the challenges in the consular services are enormous.

"We, like all governments, are operating under tight financial constraints, so we continue to look at how we can provide high-quality service," he said.

See related story on A7.