Brimble death prompted safety reforms on ships, says P&O

US-STYLE legislation requiring rape kits on board, peepholes in cabin doors and a central crime register could be implemented in reforms of the cruise ship industry, P&O has said. The cruise operator is expected to tell the inquest into the death of Dianne Brimble today it has already instituted a wide range of reforms to ensure the problems that occurred would not happen again. Mrs Brimble's former husband, Mark Brimble, is expected to support calls for legislation. Advertisement: Story continues below The inquest is due to hear submissions on cruise industry reform before the coroner, Jacqueline Milledge, hands down her recommendations tomorrow. Among the recommendations foreshadowed last week is a call for federal police officers to accompany every cruise from Australia. In the year to June the cruise company carried 183,000 passengers and reported 24 criminal and non-criminal allegations to the NSW Water Police. The US reforms, which also require security cameras, anti-viral drugs against sexually transmitted diseases, higher safety railings on decks, and strict security training, were signed into law in July. The reforms also provide for penalties in case of breaches. With small modifications, nearly all the US reforms' components could be implemented in Australia, the P&O spokeswoman, Sandy Olsen, said. P&O had already improved its procedures for managing the scene of a suspicious death or alleged crime, ensured adequate training of staff and clear chains of command, she said. Each of P&O's ships has had 300 cameras installed in communal areas to verify complaints. Counsel assisting the inquest, Ron Hoenig, suggested last week the cameras be constantly monitored. The inquest had shown P&O ''did not do enough to provide comprehensive and structured support to Mrs Brimble's family'', including her daughter and sister, Ms Olsen said. The company had introduced passenger care and welfare programs, she said. After the inquest, which started in 2006, highlighted problems with excessive behaviour linked to alcohol consumption, P&O had also developed zero tolerance of bad behaviour and introduced procedures for the responsible service of alcohol, she said. International protocols in the Asia-Pacific region have also clarified the responsibilities of law enforcement agencies since Mrs Brimble died on board a P&O cruise ship in 2002. P&O has said it no longer employed off-duty police on board its ships and recognised the importance of police investigating complaints being seen to be independent. Originally Posted at: www.brisbanetimes.com.au

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