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Illegal Food Imports

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his answer of 14 May 2003, Official Report, columns 261–62W, on food imports, how much will be spent in 2003–04 on (a) mobile anti-smuggling teams, (b) the detector dog programme, (c) intelligence activity and (d) publicity campaigns at ports and airports in the UK and overseas. [114949]

[holding answer 22 May 2003]: Customs expect that these four areas will consume most of the £4 million allocated in 2003–04. However, the information requested is not available; Exemption 4 (law enforcement and legal proceedings) of the Code of Practice on access to Government Information applies to all such information about Customs law enforcement activities.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his Answer to Parliamentary Question, ref 112559 of 13 May, (a) whether the personnel for the new mobile anti-smuggling teams will be drawn from existing Customs personnel, (b) which regions the new anti-smuggling teams will operate in, (c) which regions the detector dogs will operate in, (d) what provisions are in place for replacing ill detector dogs and (e) when the publicity campaign at ports and airports in the UK and overseas will be unveiled. [114950]

Staff for the new teams will be drawn from existing Customs personnel. The anti-smuggling teams and detector dogs are mobile and the locations of their deployment will be varied according to risk. Where illness or injury seriously impairs a detector dog"s long-term effectiveness, the dog would normally be retired from duty. Customs would then arrange for the supply and training of a new dog as soon as possible. DEFRA publicity is continuing while Customs publicity material is developed. This will be rolled out later this year.