HC Deb 28 January 1992 vol 202 cc549-51W
Mr. David Porter

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what steps he is taking to protect the non-port areas of East Anglian coastline from drug smuggling after 1 January 1993; and if he will make a statement;

  1. (2) if he will list, by drug, all seizures made by Customs and Excise coming through East Anglian ports for each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement;
  2. (3) if he will make a statement on how he proposes to prevent drugs being brought freely into East Anglian ports after 1 January 1993;
  3. (4) if he will make a statement on the levels of manpower and resources he plans to make available for Customs and Excise activities against drug smuggling into East Anglia after 1 January 1993.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

[holding answer 27 January 1992]The drugs threat to the United Kingdom is well illustrated in national statistics issued by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise at the beginning of this year showing that drugs seizures by Customs continue to increase. In particular they show an increase of 89 per cent. in cocaine and 478 per cent. in synthetic drugs.

A total of 62 per cent. of all seizures, by weight, came from or through another European Community member state, representing drugs to a value of almost £82 million.

East Anglia's proximity to the European mainland and also its facilities for deep sea traffic place it in the forefront of the fight against drugs from both EC and non-EC sources.

The table lists all customs' drug seizures in East Anglia between 1987 and 1991.

Type Weight Value (£)
1987 986 gms 76,948
1988 4,970 gms 605,644
1989 9,830 gms 1,129,185
1990 6,024 gms 296,811
1991 19,244 gms 2,019,196
1987 1,297,134 gms 2,894,133
1988 3,608,209 gms 9,536,741
1989 7,402,013 gms 22,550,125
1990 8,082,799 gms 24,248,397
1991 4,047,166 gms 11,186,690
Type Weight Value (£)
1987 120 gms 16,380
1988 1 gm 85
1989 23,082 gms 3,855,724
1990 5,633 gms 735,354
1991 3,320 gms 337,611
Diamorphine (Heroin)
1987 1,381 gms 160,060
1988 1 gm 110
1989 1,543 gms 158,160
1990 24,625 gms 2,216,250
1991 16,021 gms 1,090,962
Type Weight Value (£)
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD)
1987 635 tablets 2,108
1988 962 tablets 2,883
1989 9,341 tablets 30,993
1990 5,863 tablets 19,700
1991 40,686 tablets 128,865
+ 45 gms
Type Weight Value (£)
Methylenedioxyamphetamine Derivatives MDA, MDMA (Ecstacy)
1987 Nil
1988 Nil
1989 2,413 gms 209,305
+ 318 tablets
1990 540 tablets 19,700
1991 2,516 gms 2,160,973
+ 102,500 tablets
Other - (Various)
1987 60 gms 3
1988 6 gms 12
1989 64 gms 5,476
1990 11 gms 3,198
1991 98 gms 67,795

On the completion of the single market on I January 1993, while all fiscal and customs formalities at EC frontiers will be removed, permitting the freest movement of legitimate passenger and freight traffic, essential anti-smuggling checks will remain. These will be focused on major dangers to society such as drugs, instruments of terrorism and child pornography and will be performed in a carefully targeted manner by flexible and mobile teams.

In East Anglia 275 staff will be available on 1 January 1993 for this role involved in information and intelligence gathering; the evaluation of risk; flexible deployments to counter the risk at ports, airports, airfields, along the coastline and at every conceivable entry point. Those numbers can also be supplemented by additional resources from elsewhere as the need arises.

These staff will be conducting highly selective checks, relying on improved intelligence assessments and closer co-operation with businesses and with enforcement agencies overseas in a continuing effort to counter those serious threats to society.

The coastline of East Anglia, as with the rest of the United Kingdom, is covered by Customs maritime and aerial resources, often in close co-operation with the police. In addition, national and international intelligence-led operations against targeted small craft are a regular occurrence, including traffic destined for the east coast from the Netherlands. Customs are developing an air/sea anti-drugs memoranda of understanding programme with other maritime countries. A draft agreement with Dutch law enforcement agencies has been agreed and will be signed soon.

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