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Illegal Meat Imports

Volume 403: debated on Monday 10 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been prosecuted in the last 12 months for illegal importation of meat products in their personal luggage on arrival at UK airports. [100782]

I have been asked to reply.Figures on prosecutions for the illegal importation of meat are not collected centrally. Responsibility for prosecutions lies with local authorities. We are, however, aware of one successful prosecution last year, brought by Crawley borough council in July 2002. The Corporation of London Port Health Authority issued six cautions in October 2002.A decision to bring a prosecution before the courts is a matter for the enforcement authority. They would take a number of factors into account, including the weight of evidence to prove intent to break the laws in question, and the ability to bring the offender before the British courts. These criteria may not be easy to satisfy in the case of air passengers bringing in meat illegally, especially where small quantities are seized.In many cases, other penalties may be more appropriate. Seizures are confiscated and destroyed. We have been working with the Home Office to add details of repeat offenders to the warning index used by immigration officers.