Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 159, 160, 161 & 162 – Customs and Excise controls and staff [43854/15 43857/15, 43856/15 & 43857/15].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 159, 160, 161 & 162 – Customs and Excise controls and staff [43854/15 43857/15, 43856/15 & 43857/15]. (08 Dec 2015)

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Customs and Excise controls

159. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance if he is satisfied with the current arrangements in place by customs and Revenue for the detection of drugs that have been ingested by passengers prior to their arrival at airports; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43854/15]

 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I am advised by the Revenue Commissioners that Customs Officers use a range of technologies, indicators and other skillsets to identify drug smugglers, including persons suspected of ingesting controlled drugs. These include the use of detector dog teams, X-ray and other technology on one hand and intelligence development and profiling on the other.

 

The Commissioners have advised me that they have changed their procedures for dealing with persons suspected of ingesting controlled drugs as a result of two Supreme Court judgements dealing with the right to due process for persons detained. Consequently, Customs Officers are no longer seeking the provision of urine samples on a voluntary basis. No other aspect of the work is impacted by the judgements and Officers are still detecting ingested drugs. Tests involving biological samples have a very high requirement for specialist handling in order to be of value as evidence while protecting the rights of the person concerned. Revenue is satisfied that the present arrangements, which include inter-agency co-operation in appropriate cases, enable good detection rates at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer. They are however continually monitoring the situation and will seek additional powers if they deem this necessary.

 

Where ingestion of controlled drugs is strongly suspected and cannot be immediately confirmed, there are agreed procedures for the Customs Officer to alert An Garda Siochána, who have extensive detention powers under the provisions of Section 2 of the Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act 1996.

 

As Minister, I am satisfied with the current arrangements and I will support any additional legislation the Commissioners may seek in the fight against drug trafficking.

 

Customs and Excise staff

160. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance the number of detections of illegal drugs in the west, Border and midlands region in the years 2009 to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43855/15]

161. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance the number of full-time and part-time staff within the Customs and Excise section of the Revenue Commissioners who are engaged solely in the detection and investigation of illegal importation of drugs and who are based at sea ports and airports in counties Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43856/15]

162. Deputy Tony McLoughlin asked the Minister for Finance the number of staff within the Customs and Excise section of the Revenue Commissioners who are detailed to investigate illegal narcotics and the illegal importation of drugs in counties Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan and Donegal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43857/15]

 

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 160 to 162, inclusive, together.

 

Revenue is a fully integrated tax and customs administration and I am advised by Revenue that it is not possible to disaggregate the resources deployed exclusively at any given time to the detection and investigation of illegal drugs importations. Revenue currently has approximately 2,000 staff countrywide engaged on activities that are dedicated to targeting and confronting non-compliance. These activities include anti-smuggling and anti-evasion, investigation and prosecution, audit, assurance checks, anti-avoidance, returns compliance and debt collection.

 

There are currently over 800 Revenue staff serving in the Border, Midlands, West Region, of which approximately 127 are engaged on these activities in the North West area.

 

Revenue has provided me with the following information in relation to drug detections in the Border Midlands West Region:

 

  BORDER MIDLANDS WEST REGION DRUG SEIZURES

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

474

184

84

73

73

68

56



I am advised by Revenue that as part of its risk focused approach to the discharge of its role in this area, harbours and inlets along the coastline are monitored and evaluated on an ongoing basis from the point of view of the potential for smuggling. This work is supplemented by Revenue's Customs Drug Watch Programme, which incorporates a Coastal and Airfield reporting mechanism. This allows members of the public, coastal and local maritime communities etc. to notify us in confidence of suspect or unusual movements at sea or around the coast through our confidential 24/7 Drugs Watch free phone facility. Revenue is very active in the area of targeting and combatting drugs smuggling and is committed to playing an active role, in conjunction with other relevant agencies, in working against this criminal activity and those responsible for it.   Revenue has an enforcement presence at all key airports and ports and at other strategic locations throughout the country and place particular emphasis on developing an intelligence-based focus at both national and regional level, deploying resources to areas of highest risk. Enforcement strength at particular locations is regularly augmented with additional personnel on a risk-assessment basis, or when particular operations are taking place against illegal activity.

Item Type:Dail Debates
Source:Oireachtas
Date:8 December 2015
EndNote:View
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Substance related offence > Drug offence > Illegal transportation of drugs (smuggling / trafficking)
MM-MO Crime and law > Crime prevention
MM-MO Crime and law > Law enforcement and the justice system
MM-MO Crime and law > Justice system > Law enforcement agency
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland

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