Seaport Cooperation Programme (SEACOP)
The SEACOP is a European Commission initiative, which has been piloted in Ghana, Senegal and Cape Verde. It has been set up to prevent the Trans-Atlantic cocaine flow to the European Union, and to provide support to West African Countries along the Atlantic Ocean to counter the cocaine/narcotic threat and other serious transnational organised crimes such as explosives and firearms trafficking, trafficking of persons and trafficking of nuclear materials (among others) through containers, commercial vessels, pleasure crafts, go-fast launchers, pirogues, yachts, coasters, freighters and fishing boats.
The SEACOP Concept in Sierra Leone
In 2013, the European Union (EU) and the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) held discussions on the establishment of the SEACOP programme in Sierra Leone. On 23rd September 2013, a 5-day training was provided by EU SEACOP experts on SEACOP issues at the Sierra Leone Police Training School, Hastings for 13 SL-SEACOP Team members drawn from the SLPA, SLP-Maritime, NRA, Immigration Department, RSLAF-Maritime Wing, CISU and the ONS as the coordinating body. However, a new Team has since been constituted and the membership has now been broadened to include two representatives drawn from the following TOCU institutions: ONS, CISU, RSLAF, NDLEA, Immigration, IIS, SLPA, NRA, SLMA and TOCU.
Heads of the aforementioned institutions are fully aware about the functions of SEACOP as they had been informed officially via correspondences, nominated their personnel for the first training conducted for team members, and have discussed SEACOP issues at the TOCU Advisory Board level.
The training was to equip members with the necessary skills to search suspicious vessels and containers, and the EU SEACOP team pledged to provide the SL-Team with equipment and necessary working gears for the operations.
To enhance operational effectiveness, the SEACOP Team is now being housed at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay following completion of refurbishment of two forty feet containers. Personnel from the various TOCU agencies have now been deployed at the Quay and SEACOP operations are now in full gear.
Prior to and after the signing of an MOU between FIIAPP/SEACOP and GoSL in 2017, and in furtherance of its commitment, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) and the UK Border Force donated working gears and ICT equipment respectively. Items donated have been installed at the SEACOP refurbished container at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay.
As the coordinating agency, the ONS undertook the the cost for the refurbishment of the containers which were donated to the SEACOP Team by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).