Sat | May 25, 2019

Increased surveillance to tackle corruption at Customs

Published:Thursday | July 26, 2018 | 12:00 AMCarlene Davis/Gleaner Writer
From left: Marcus Steele, managing director of Carreras Limited; John Padgett, Caribbean external affairs and anti-illicit trade manager, British American Tobacco; Michael Ellis, director of Ellis & Associates Limited; and Kirk Benjamin, senior director of Jamaica Customs Agency, reviewing some of the illicit cigarettes at the opening ceremony of the Carreras Limited Anti-Illicit Trade Conference held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday.

Scanners, body cameras, and closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) are some of the measures being considered by the Jamaica Customs Agency as it seeks to beef up security at the island's ports.

Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Jamaica Customs Agency Kirk Benjamin made the announcement recently at an Anti-Illicit Trade Conference held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew.

"The upgrading of scanners at the port, thereby making them more integrated with our new Customs management system, will reduce the dependence on human intervention as the scanners will be able to scan against a previously uploaded electronic manifest and make an automatic referral if any anomaly is detected," Benjamin said.

Benjamin explained that the Customs agency was determined to eliminate corruption and had been testing body cameras that are to be put to work for better transparency.

"These will not be just for our enforcement officers, but we will start there and see how we can roll them out into operation, so at any time, we will be able to look back at an examination to see what happened. It's something that will protect both the importer and also the officer," Benjamin said.

He also disclosed that the Customs agency was working with the port and warehouse operators regarding the installation of upgraded CCTV capabilities. These systems will be able to record in low to no light and hold the recordings for at least 90 days.