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Thursday, 16 May, 2002, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Smuggling concern over ferry route
Superfast ferry at Rosyth
The new Rosyth ferry service begins on Friday
The new ferry service from Rosyth to Zeebrugge may provide an easy route for smugglers, MPs have warned.

The new service from Fife to the Belgian port begins on Friday, but no extra Customs staff have been taken on.

The House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee said more money must be spent tackling illegal trafficking and it wants more Customs officers in Scotland.

The Customs service insisted that it would be able to cope, saying the port would be covered by mobile inspectors.

Customs channel
MPs called for 50 more officers

In a report on the Customs service, committee members warned that Scotland has become a soft option for smugglers because there are too few officers attempting to cover too many ports.

There are a total of 287 customs staff in Scotland - but the committee inquiry said that was too few and another 50 were needed.

It said officers were spread too thinly to provide an effective deterrent to smugglers and warned that Scotland's vast coastline was effectively not policed.

There are no permanent officers at all in Orkney.

Foot-and-mouth fear

The committee said that the new Rosyth ferry service could provide a route for illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol.

Illegal meat imports are also a serious threat particularly after last year's foot-and-mouth outbreak.

Paisley North Labour MP Irene Adams chaired the committee.

She said the port would be covered by a mobile team but there would be days when those officers might be elsewhere.

The committee wants more government resources to tackle the problem.

It also called for sniffer dogs to be located in Scotland, rather than the north of England.

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 ON THIS STORY
Elizabeth Quigley reports
"Fears are growing the ferry service will open doors to smugglers."
See also:

27 Mar 02 | Scotland
Ferry service 'no easy target'
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
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