HC Deb 25 June 2002 vol 387 cc763-5W
Annabelle Ewing

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many mobile detection teams are employed by Customs and Excise in Scotland; how many staff are employed in each team; what the shift-work pattern is of each team; what the budgetary provision is for each team; and what the budgetary provision was for each team in each year since 1997. [63710]

John Healey

For operational reasons it is not Customs policy to disclose specific information on the number of staff in teams, their work patterns or their specific budgetary provision.

Matthew Taylor

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the expenditure by the Customs and Excise on advertising was in each fiscal year since 1997–98; and if he will make a statement. [63632]

John Healey

HM Customs and Excise did not run any advertising campaigns between April 1997 and March 1999.

Between April 1999 and March 2000, £83,000 was spent on a campaign to raise awareness of the Custom's confidential hotline and to encourage people to phone with information to help Customs.

£1.6 million was spent on an advertising campaign between April 2000 and March 2001 to support the Tackling Tobacco strategy. This was the first burst of a three year campaign and aimed to raise awareness of the links to organised crime and of the penalties for those who are caught smuggling or dealing in illicit tobacco. Among all our audiences there was a steady increase in awareness of Government action and the penalties. Research has shown 41 per cent. awareness of the advertising among the general public. Within trade groups, awareness increased significantly among HGV drivers (at 83 per cent.) and retailers (81 per cent.).

Between April 2001 and March 2002, £830,000 was spent on campaigns including burst two of the Tackling Tobacco smuggling campaign (spend £560,000) and an information campaign for the Joint Fashion Industry Teams (spend £29,000). This was a regional campaign in London and Leicester to raise awareness of the information line for the fashion industry to help them understand the rules on VAT, benefits, taxes and employment to help them to operate in the formal economy.

All expenditure quoted excludes VAT. Figures include advertising and related campaign costs, such as production and research.

Annabelle Ewing

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what percentage of dogs used by Customs and Excise in(a) Manchester and (b) Hull are (i) drugs detector dogs and (ii) cash detector dogs; [63705]

(2) how many cash detector dogs are used by Customs and Excise at the Rosyth ferry port; [63703]

(3) how many dog handlers were employed by Customs and Excise in (a) 1997–98. (b) 1998–99, (c) 1999–2000, (d) 2000–01 and (e) 2001–02 in (i) Glasgow, (ii) Aberdeen, (iii) Hull and (iv) Manchester; [63704]

(4) what use is being made of the dog husbandry facility at Glasgow Airport. [63706]

John Healey

There are currently 11 dogs operational in Manchester and Hull and five vacancies. When filled, these will bring the total to 16 operational dogs, comprising nine drugs dogs, four currency dogs, and three multi-skilled drugs/tobacco dogs, each with one handler.

The consolidation of detector dog resources in large units based in Manchester and Hull has enabled Customs to provide the full range of dog skills (drugs, tobacco and cash) in support of frontier activity across northern England and Scotland. The deployment of the detector dogs is flexible, intelligence led and focused on the delivery of operational impact.

The Rosyth/Zeebrugge ferry service started on 17 May 2002. Customs staff will be deployed regularly at Rosyth on a risk free basis, both from flexible multi-functional teams currently located in Scotland and, as required, from UK national strike force teams, including detector dogs from the Manchester and Hull units.

The consolidation of dog resources to Manchester and Hull followed reviews on the usage and outputs of detector dogs, including those based at the former Aberdeen and Glasgow units. The number of dog handler posts in Manchester has remained at eight from 1997 to date. From 1997 to 2001, four posts were based at Hull, increasing to eight posts this year.

Aberdeen dog unit had three posts in 1997–98 and 1998–99, and the dog unit closed in the summer of 1999. Glasgow dog unit had four posts in 1997–98 and 1998–99 and five posts in 1999–2000. This reduced to four posts in 2000–01 and the unit closed in summer 2001. When the dog unit at Glasgow Airport was closed in the summer of 2001, the facility was dismantled and the land returned to the British Airports Authority.