ACTION PLAN 2002-03
The Illegal Imports programme aim is to:
Reduce the risk of exotic animal and plant disease
entering the country and then threatening our public health, and
livestock, agriculture and horticulture industries.
The key elements of the programme are:
Risk assessmentto inform decisions
about the nature of the risks from imports (personal and commercial),
and where are the critical points for taking action. As recommended
by the Policy Commission on Food and Farming, a thorough risk
assessment of meat imports led by the Veterinary Laboratories
Agency is under way. Results will start to be available from May.
More data is needed to inform this process. External stakeholder
groups will be established to help inform and guide the risk assessment
process. Targeted sample checks will be undertaken, in agreement
with the enforcement agencies involved, where necessary to establish
Co-operation between agenciesthe
central and local government agencies involved in importation
of food and other goods are working closely together to achieve
effective inter-agency co-ordination of checks. DEFRA will provide
a published guide on the roles, responsibilities and powers of
relevant agencies for preventing and detecting illegal consignments
of products of animal origin.
Effective intelligenceto improve
targeting of anti-smuggling measures. Action has already been
taken to strengthen intelligence gathering and sharing between
enforcement agencies. External stakeholder groups are being established
to assist the Government in this work.
Legal powersenforcement officers will
be given new powers (already available to customs officers) in
April to search baggage, etc for illegal imports of meat.
European actionwork with European
authorities to clarify and potentially tighten enforcement of
rules on third country imports reaching the UK via other EU member
states; and to reform rules on personal imports.
Publicityfor the United Kingdom's
rules on imports of animal and plant products, and the reasons
for them. As results from the risk assessment and current market
research on consumer impact come in, discussions will continue
with representatives of airlines and others about how they can
Deterrencework to ensure both a greater
awareness of the consequences of bringing illegal food imports
into the UK in terms of information to passengers and shippers;
and, taking account of the risk assessment, to establish the appropriate
level and type of checks, and effective penalties.
Other specific measures will include:
Pilot use of detector dogs to be
under way by summer 2002
Examination of the potential benefits
of using x-ray equipment to scan containers and personal baggage
to detect illegal imports, leading if successful to a trial.
Provision of "amnesty"
bins or equivalent measure to encourage the surrender of unintended
illegal personal imports.
Landing cardpursue with interested
parties possible amendment to the landing card to draw attention
to import prohibitions.
Research into available technologies
which might help detect illegal imports.
Following the successful Illegal Imports Forum
chaired by the Secretary of State of Environment, Food & Rural
Affairs on 21 March, leading stakeholders and interest groups
in the private sector and local government are committed to supporting
this work, and will be closely associated with work affecting
their interests, or where they have expertise to offer.
Illegal Imports Unit