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Coastguard to remain under JESCC after positive report

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GUERNSEY COASTGUARD will remain under the authority of the Joint Emergency Services Control Centre, but improvements will be made in the training of its operators.

Guernsey harbourmaster Captain David Barker. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 23864044)

A peer review of the service, carried out by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency in 2018, found the coastguard to be fit for purpose.

The MCA was asked to assess how well Guernsey Coastguard is meeting national and international search and rescue obligations and to highlight any gaps or enhancements which could be made.

It identified areas, particularly in the training of JESCC operators, where improvements can be made.

Harbour master Captain David Barker said it was useful to get an expert outside opinion on the coastguard organisations.

‘This report should give those who use our waters confidence that we can provide effective search and rescue services should they need it,’ he said.

‘The Bailiwick is lucky to be well served by a range of sea, land, and air assets available for search and rescue operations when the need arises.

‘Volunteers operate most of these and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their professionalism and dedication.

‘We have already put in place a training and quality improvement plan for our JESCC operators, as recommended in the report, and we will be closely monitoring the results over the coming months.’

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Last year, Captain Barker said he would look at whether the coastguard service should be returned to the Harbour Authority from the Joint Emergency Services Control Centre.

This came after concerns were raised by the Committee for Home Affairs when during a visit to JESCC it found the coastguard operator had no maritime experience.

Captain Barker said the decision on the operator of the coastguard service would be based on how JESCC performs over the year.

‘We had seen an earlier copy of the report and we were aware that we needed to make some efforts to improve the training levels,’ he said.

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‘We put some measures in place, we have a quality assurance and quality improvement officer and he has put in some key performance indicators.

‘Having said that, I think it’s fair to say that JESCC has proved itself over the last couple of weeks with the unfortunate events that have taken place.’

Peer reviews are regular exercises carried out between search and rescue agencies to share best practice, new developments in technology and staff training.

Captain Barker said the MCA would be invited back this year as a commitment to continually assess the effectiveness of the search and rescue organisation.

‘I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the professional members of our coastguard organisation, both within Guernsey Harbours and at JESCC, whose focus, like my own, is on saving lives at sea.’

  • A copy of the MCA’s 2018 report will be available on Guernsey Harbours’ corporate reporting page on its website.

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