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Customs And Excise

Volume 407: debated on Monday 23 June 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many frontline Customs officers will be remaining in Wales following the proposed operational changes to primary use of the National Strike Force; and where they will be based. [118541]

Modern criminals are well orgainised, well financed and highly adaptable and use ever more sophisticated methods. To tackle them, Customs is continuing to develop a more skilled, flexible and keenly targeted organisation, replacing predictable and often unproductive activities.Under Customs proposals, a permanent law enforcement presence will be maintained at Holyhead, Swansea and Cardiff. Customs law enforcement activity throughout Wales and the West Midlands will be by targeted, flexible and less predictable attendance, in variable numbers, drawn from a contingent of approximately 100 Detection and 215 investigation officers based in Wales: Bristol and the West Midlands. They will be directed and supported by intelligence resources located within analytical teams, joint intelligence cells and central teams based in Wales, elsewhere in the UK and in key strategic locations overseas. Over and above the purely regional resources in Wales and the West Midlands, Customs can call on additional resources from the 120 strong National Strike Force. This capability to conduct intelligence-based targeted operations of greater intensity will help provide a real deterrent to serious criminals—not only professional smugglers and bootleggers—and will better safeguard communities throughout Wales.