Public Accounts Committee blasts Customs anti-drug action

20 May 99
Customs & Excise has come under attack from a powerful House of Commons committee over its anti-drug smuggling operations.

21 May 1999

The Public Accounts Committee's report notes the department's belief that it is maintaining a 'reasonable holding operation' but added: 'We are disappointed by the lack of ambition that this implies.'

David Davis, the committee's chairman, said: 'The department appears to be fighting the war against drug smuggling blindfold. It has inadequate information about the scale of the task or the impact of its action, and in particular its decision to focus its energies on the commercial drug smugglers.

'It does not know whether this policy is working as it does not collect the right information.'

Dame Valerie Strachan, chair of HM Customs & Excise, denied the department was operating blindfold. 'Each year the value and number of smuggling organisations we break up have increased,' she said. 'As the methods for drug smuggling have changed and become increasingly sophisticated, we have also changed our methods to target those involved in large commercial smuggling.'


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