Crime on the waterfront

Crime on working waterfronts around the globe has been a reality for centuries. Thankfully, here in Canada, modern crime-fighting and new technologies are going a long way to control the problem.

As a Canadian port authority, our mandate is to facilitate the safe movement of Canada’s trade in a manner that protects the environment and considers local communities.

The responsibility for policing the waterfront lies with several agencies, including local police forces, the RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency. Cargo-handling personnel are employed by port terminals through the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, which approves employees for port access. The port authority works closely with these agencies to ensure the safety and security of the port.

The port authority’s specific responsibility is securing access to federal port lands. In recent years, and since 9/11, we have spent at least $10 million to increase port security. We have installed new access gates at port entry points, upgraded our operations centre, installed over 600 security cameras, launched new high-technology patrol boats, improved our port pass program, and increased port security personnel and patrols. We also work with other agencies, sharing information and best practices.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada, along with law enforcement and provincial trucking associations across the country, runs a cargo theft reporting program to address what it describes as the rapidly escalating crime of cargo theft from transportation hubs, said to cost Canadians up to $5 billion. The program improves information-sharing among insurers, law enforcement, the trucking community and other stakeholders to assist in the recovery of stolen goods and bring criminals to justice.

At the end of 2015, Vancouver Fraser Port Authority discontinued its financial contribution to the RCMP-led Waterfront Joint Forces Operation – a policing organization intended to fight crime on the waterfront. For many years, we were the only port in Canada to fund a federal policing agency. However, since policing is not core to our mandate, we decided it was more prudent to fund security measures that do fall within our mandate, and focus on complementing the activities of the police agencies.

We continue to coordinate security efforts with the Waterfront Joint Forces Operation – including their new marine vessel now in operation in the port – and we are active participants in the recently implemented Pacific Integrated Marine Security Working Group. We also lead the Marine Emergency Response Coordination Committee among other information-sharing collaborations.