Illegal Imports: Government Action
ACTION PLAN 200203
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 assessment to 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 underway. 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
- Cooperation between agencies the
central and local government agencies involved in importation
of food and other goods are working closely together to achieve
effective interagency coordination of checks. The
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 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 intelligence to improve targeting
of antismuggling 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 powers enforcement officers will
be given new powers (already available to customs officers) in
April to search baggage, etc for illegal imports of meat.
- European action work with European authorities
to clarify and potentially tighten enforcement of rules on third
country imports reaching the United Kingdom via other European
Union member states; and to reform rules on personal imports.
- Publicity for 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 help.
- Deterrence work to ensure both a greater
awareness of the consequences of bringing illegal food imports
into the United Kingdom 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 underway by
- Examination of the potential benefits of using
xray 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 card pursue with interested parties
possible amendment to the landing card to draw attention to import
- 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.
105 Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
News Release, 127/02, Illegal Imports: Government Action Plan
published, see: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2002/020328b.htm