HL Deb 07 June 2004 vol 662 cc17-8WA
Lord Rotherwick

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What has been the impact of the four dedicated national strike teams for illegal meat announced in March 2003; what is their size; and what strategy is in place to facilitate communication between them, other customs staff and port health authorities; and [HL2986]

How many seizures of illegal meat were made at international airports in 2003; and [HL2987]

How many prosecutions there have been in 2003 following the seizure of illegal meats. [HL2988]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

All HM Customs and Excise detection staff include products of animal origin in their frontier responsibilities. Their strike force detection teams are part of Customs' wider strategy to deter and detect illegal products of animal origin from entering the UK. These four new teams have increased Customs' ability to deploy in larger numbers, less predictably and with greater impact. This means that the numbers tackling a particular threat are not static but are regularly reviewed against the latest assessments of risk.

There are national communication systems in place to enable strike force teams to give and receive

Jobcentre vacancy statistics were withdrawn from National Statistics in September 2001 as a result of distortions to the data, which occurred following the introduction of new administrative procedures by Jobcentre Plus. Comparable figures for later than April 2001 are therefore unavailable.

Results from the ONS Vacancy Survey were released as National Statistics from July 2003, but are not available by region or skill. The attached table shows the number of unfilled vacancies at Jobcentres by broad occupational group and Government Office Region in Great Britain for October 2000, the latest date for which such analysis is published. However, please note that unfilled Jobcentre vacancies may not be representative of all job vacancies across the labour market.

briefings and share information with local Customs staff, who are primarily responsible for communications with port health staff in each location.

The total number of seizures of products of animal origin from air travellers arriving in the UK by all agencies in 2003 was 11,360. In addition Customs made a number of seizures in freight and postal traffic that had originally entered the UK by air. In their spring report (Cm 6224) Customs reported 9,571 seizures in total in the period 1 April-31 December 2003.

Customs did not identify any cases suitable for prosecution during 2003, although two smugglers have been convicted in 2004. Information regarding prosecutions by other agencies is not held centrally.