One thing I have learnt about being Home Affairs Minister is that events can overtake plans and you generally can’t predict what your next surprising phone call will be about. The certainty is that these are rarely happy events. After the terrible attack on Paris it was no surprise when the Chief of Police called to brief me on the precautions being taken here.
Security at our borders has been on a severe alert for some time now, as it has been in the rest of the Common Travel Area (UK & Ireland). Although there is no intelligence to suggest that Jersey is at risk of a terrorist attack, we follow the UK Border agency’s procedures as a precaution. Our team here is in regular contact with colleagues in the UK and France as a matter of course, and they share information as well as training.
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, Police in Jersey maintained an increased presence at borders. The Jersey Customs and Immigration Service conducted enhanced checks on passengers and freight arriving from outside the CTA and swiped every passport upon arrival. As members of this travel area we have a duty to meet the same legislative standards and in order to do this, the States have recently agreed to match new standards by strengthening the law around the seizure of travel documents and requiring carriers to provide advanced passenger info.
We must remember that we benefit from UK led intelligence, where a number of serious plots have already been disrupted and significant sums of money are being invested in enhancing the work of the security services, whose information we rely upon.
Maintaining security is not confined to the physical threat posed by terrorists or criminals in the twenty first century. As you will be aware our reliance upon computer systems and the internet has brought with it the need to ensure cybersecurity. Within the States of Jersey Police there is already a high tech crime unit, who have successfully brought the prosecution of an international criminal network. In this area too there are international guidelines and conventions. Law officers are currently drafting updates to our own legislation to meet standards set by international conventions.
Safety remains important in our personal relations too, which is why we joined the White Ribbon Campaign this year, for the first time. This is an international movement to raise awareness and to end male violence against women, it has been observed since 1991, when a group decided to protest against the shooting of 14 female university students in in Montreal. By wearing a ribbon a person pledges never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.
It is of great importance that we tackle attitudes in this area; the latest figures prove the need for this, as they show that in a time of falling crime statistics, we are seeing an increase in sexual violence and assaults.