By CELESTE NIXON
Tribune Staff Reporter
AS PROMISED, the government is moving ahead with the formation of a National Intelligence Agency comprised of representatives from all branches of law enforcement.
Speaking after a tour of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force base HMBS Coral Harbour yesterday, Minister of National Security Dr Bernard Nottage said the NIA will be formed in short order.
He said: “We are establishing a National Intelligence Agency, which is akin to a Secret Service type of function.
“If we are going to protect our borders, if we are going to reduce crime, if we are going to maintain safety and peace, then we have to have first-class intelligence.”
According to Dr Nottage, the government began working on the initiative shortly after the election, and the process of forming the agency is already “far along”.
He said: “We have an organisation called the Heads of National Law Enforcement Agencies which includes the Defence Force, the Police, Her Majesty’s Prison, the Port Department, Customs and Immigrations Departments and we have been meeting on a regular basis and we are about to be able to launch the national intelligence agency in the not-to-distant future.
“If each agency has it’s own intelligence, and is collecting intelligence, but they are not really sharing it with each other, then we are not really working together and we have already found just by having our meetings, we are discovering things about each other – what we found now is that we potentiate each other.”
Speaking shortly after the election, Dr Nottage said the National Intelligence Agency will help the government maximse its use of resources in the fight against crime, particularly international drug trafficking.
He said: “The criminal elements have proven to be very resilient and creative in finding alternative ways to continue their illegal activities. As a result, law enforcement agencies must remain ahead of the curve in finding measures to destroy the repulsive activities of drug dealers.
“This can only be done by us working together collectively as partners, both nationally and as a region.
“We cannot afford to relax in our joint efforts; to do so would be to the peril of us all.”