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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 15:16 GMT
Ferry service 'no easy target'
Superfast ferry at Rosyth
The ferry service is due to start in May
The Scottish Executive has announced a funding package to help police Scotland's first direct ferry link to Europe.

The 220,000 is intended to help ensure the route between Rosyth and the Belgian port of Zeebrugge does not become an easy target for smugglers.

The first ferry to make the journey is due to set sail in May, and a new terminal building is due to be completed in Fife by July.

People who just want to visit this lovely country of ours will get a warm welcome

Superintendent Jim Rodden, Fife Constabulary

More than 45,000 bookings have already been taken for the service, which will be operated by Greek-based Superfast Ferries.

Police, customs and immigration officials are taking part in a training exercise in Fife designed to ensure that Scotland's doors are open only to holidaymakers.

They are aiming to close the door on asylum seekers, illegal drugs and tobacco and alcohol smuggling.

Deputy Justice Minister Richard Simpson said the service would improve trade links and boost Scotland's tourism industry.

He said the authorities would thwart criminal elements that attempted to use the service.

Authorities would pool resources to "provide a cohesive and effective deterrent to crime," the minister added.

Competition laws

There will be a dedicated Ports Unit staffed by eight detectives - and Customs and Excise will have a full-time presence at the terminal.

The ferry service got the green light from the European Commission in December last year.

Superintendent Jim Rodden, of Fife Constabulary, said smugglers would be in for a rude awakening if they tried to conduct any business in Scotland.

Superfast ferry brochure
The ferry company has already planned its service

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme Mr Rodden said: "We are looking for anybody that is involved in criminal activity.

"People who just want to visit this lovely country of ours will get a warm welcome.

"But for those involved in criminal activity it will be a more robust welcome and we intend to uphold Scottish law.

"We are interested in the security interests of the UK as a whole."

European Union competition laws meant that Brussels had to approve 12m of UK funding for the project before it could go ahead.

Superfast Ferries plans to run two roll-on, roll-off vessels in each direction every day, with space for 800 passengers as well as cars and lorries.

The journey between Scotland and Belgium is expected to take between 16 and 18 hours.

BBC Scotland's Elizabeth Quigley reports
"Officers are on the lookout for drugs, tobacco and alcohol"
BBC Scotland's Elizabeth Quigley reports
"Authorities hope to show Rosyth as a safe haven for holidaymakers, not smugglers"
See also:

10 Aug 01 | Scotland
Ferry plan 'remains on course'
11 May 01 | Scotland
Euro ferry docks on the Forth
05 May 01 | Scotland
Euro ferry 'could create 1500 jobs'
30 Mar 01 | Scotland
Shipyard gets 75m contract boost
30 Jun 00 | Scotland
Jobs go in firm shake-up
20 Jan 00 | Scotland
North Sea ferry plan gathers steam
05 Oct 99 | Scotland
North Sea ferry link sails closer
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