§ Lord Rotherwick
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will encourage the appropriate agencies to prosecute people who have broken the law by bringing into the United Kingdom illegal meat for their own consumption; and [HL5310]
Whether they will encourage the appropriate agencies to prosecute people when they have broken the law by bringing into the United Kingdom illegal meats for consumption by friends and members of their community; and [HL5311]
Whether they will encourage the appropriate agencies to prosecute people for bringing into the United Kingdom illegal meats for commercial use, such as for use in a restaurant; and [HL5312]
Whether they have a policy not to prosecute people for bringing illegal meats into the United Kingdom; and [HL5313]229WA
What is the policy of Customs and Excise for pursuing the conviction of people caught bringing illegal meat into the United Kingdom. [HL5314]
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
HM Customs and Excise took on responsibility for anti-smuggling controls on meat from 11 April 2003. Their policy is outlined in a service level agreement between Customs and Defra, which says that Customs will consider for investigation and prosecution cases where suitable evidence is available, and in particular: serious cases involving repeat offenders; large-scale imports; commercial-scale smuggling; other aggravating circumstances.
To date, there have been few cases which meet these criteria. Customs' judgments in respect of these have been that there has not been sufficient evidence to warrant prosecution. Conviction is a. matter for the courts. Customs balance the use of their resources between detection, seizure and prosecution to maximise their overall impact on smuggling. They believe that the most effective way to deliver their aim of reducing disease risks from illegal imports of meat and products of animal origin is to enhance awareness of the rules and regulations, to detect breaches of those rules, to seize and to disrupt, with investigation and prosecution confined to the most serious cases. The effectiveness of these measures is being kept under review.