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Volume 404: debated on Tuesday 6 May 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the impact of a 40 per cent. reduction in anti-smuggling staff in Wales; and if he will make a statement. [110718]

Modern smuggling is carried out by well-organised, well-financed and highly adaptable criminal groups who use ever more sophisticated methods. To tackle them, Customs are building more intelligence-led, flexible and mobile teams capable of far greater impact than the smaller, static, predictable and less productive teams that, in some locations, they will replace.The changes are designed to improve the effectiveness of Customs Law Enforcement in Wales. Customs' impact on smuggling—rather than the number of officers maintained in fixed locations—is the most important factor in these changes. The actual numbers to be deployed in Wales will match the assessed risk.