Speech/statement | Date: 21/10/2022 | Ministry of Justice and Public Security
By Minister of Justice and Public Security Emilie Enger Mehl (Held at the press conferense October 20 2022)
(Must be compared with speech delivered)
There were new drone observations in several locations in Norway yesterday after the police have detained several Russians lately in connection with drone activity.
We must expect similar cases in the time ahead.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a fundamental and enduring change to the security situation in Europe. It has resulted in Norway introducing the most comprehensive sanctions ever seen in Norwegian law.
The sanctions are a reaction to Russia's attack on Ukraine in contravention of international law, and are an expression of Norway's solidarity with the Ukrainian people.
During the past year, and since the outbreak of the war on 24 February, the Norwegian Government has implemented a number of measures to strengthen our emergency preparedness and national security. As the Minister of Defence mentioned, we have increased the collaboration between the police and the Norwegian Armed Forces. The police have increased security at critical infrastructure, onshore facilities and facilities on the Norwegian continental shelf with the assistance of the Armed Forces. Both the police and the Armed Forces have increased their presence and visibility at sea in the areas around our oil and gas installations, also on shore.
We have reviewed the Security Act. The authorities and the companies on the shelf are now collaborating even more closely to implement the correct measures to secure our oil and gas installations and the personnel who work there.
In February, the Norwegian Government established a national unit in the police and the Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) to handle complex threats, which has become important.
NOK 0.5 billion was allocated in the spring to strengthen civil preparedness, for the purposes of countering intelligence work and sabotage, as well as to address complex threats, which we realise that we are now experiencing. The operational capacity of the Civil Defence has also been strengthened and work is being done to develop a digital alert system to help companies detect possible cyber attacks against them.
The Norwegian Government is working to establish a new mobile phone-based public warning service. This means that we can send specific alerts of danger or other information to all Norwegian inhabitants with a mobile phone within a matter of seconds.
The Directorate for Civil Protection and Emergency Planning has now signed a contract with the supplier, and the goal is for this system to be in place this year. This will do much to boost civil protection.
The Norwegian Government has strengthened the Norwegian Civil Security Clearance Authority. This will increase its ability to process security clearance cases.
We have also increased civilian intelligence in Norway, which increases our ability to detect complex threats and activity by foreign states in Norway, particularly in Northern Norway.
The Norwegian Government has also strengthened the voluntary part of the rescue service, which is important in our preparedness. They will receive funding which covers the annual subscription costs for 2 000 new emergency network terminals.
The Norwegian Government has granted NOK 150 million to strengthen the police’s and PST’s ability to handle complex threats. NOK 200 million has also been allocated to local police, and has been included in the budget for 2022.
The police will also increase competence on drones in the police districts. We look forward to all police districts having their own drone car, and we are currently training about 100 drone pilots in the police.
Measures have also been implemented which will put us in a better position to face digital threats and cyber attacks. The police, the PST and the National Security Authority (NSM) will play a key role in this work.
In the 2023 budget, the Norwegian Government will also increase the basic staffing at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centres in Sola and Bodø.
The Norwegian Government has decided that Russian fishing vessels which have an exemption from the EU's sanctions regime may now only call at three ports, and all vessels that call must be inspected.
The police and the PST have been collaborating even more closely since this spring, and the Director of Public Prosecutions has now decided that the PST will take over responsibility for the drone cases. The investigation is mainly linked to a breach of the sanctions regime and in practice it means that Russians have not been allowed to operate drones in Norway since the introduction of the sanctions in February.
Emergency preparedness is high in Norway. At the same time, the Norwegian Government is constantly considering new measures. The police has been tasked with acquiring NOK 57 million worth of anti-drone equipment. The Norwegian Government does not exclude the possibility that the rules regarding drones may be tightened even further. At the same time, we must remember that there are different considerations to be taken into account and there may be important and good reasons to use drones, and we must assess whether restricting their use is the best option.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Norway has quite a job ahead of it. It is currently reviewing the rules and determining whether they need to be tightened. The NSM is also looking at the rules regarding exclusion zones around important infrastructure and airports.
To conclude, it is important to point out that we do not have any concrete threats against Norway, but that this is a new security situation. The police, the PST and many others are now working around the clock throughout Norway to create security every day, and this is also the Government's most important job right now. The new security situation means that emergency preparedness is high in our services, and I would like to express my sincere gratitude towards everyone who is now at work and doing their utmost to create security for us all.