Memorandum submitted by HM Customs and
Excise Law Enforcement
Thank you for your letter of 8 January to Bill
Logan asking a series of questions about Customs activity in Northern
Ireland. I have been asked to reply.
(a) What human (measured in terms of full-time
personnel) and financial resource are available to the Organised
Crime Task Force through HM Customs and Excise?
The Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) does not
have a permanent corps of operational officers. Its role is to
bring together all agencies in Northern Ireland so that they work
together in the most effective way to tackle organised criminality
which is an obstacle to the transition of Northern Ireland into
a "civic" society.
Therefore, Customs do not have any officers
permanently attached to the OCTF. However, all of Customs officers
in Northern Ireland, and on the mainland as appropriate, are available
and regularly participate in multi-agency operations which the
OCTF seeks to promote.
(b) How many staff in HM Customs and Excise
are wholly or mainly engaged in work against terrorist organised
crime in Northern Ireland, and how does this compare to human
resources allocated to tackling "ordinary" organised
crime in Northern Ireland.
Nonetackling "terrorist organised
crime" is not a Customs responsibility. Customs responsibilities
include enforcement of the restrictions and prohibitions on certain
goods, such as Class A drugs, and tackling evasion of indirect
taxes through fraud and smuggling. In Northern Ireland, Customs
top priorities are combating the evasion of excise duty on road
fuel and tobacco.
The Northern Ireland Threat Assessment, published
in May 2001, did highlight that up to half of all the criminal
gangs in Northern Ireland have current or historic links to paramilitary
groups. That is not why such gangs come within Customs interests.
Customs focus is on the evasion of road fuel and tobacco duty
and not on any paramilitary activities which these gangs may engage
in. Customs have significant resources devoted to tackling this
(c) What is the estimated loss of duty on
smuggled fuel in each of the years:
(i) 1 April 1998-31 March 1999;
(ii) 1 April 1999-31 March 2000;
(iii) 1 April 2000-31 March 2001; and
(iv) 1 April 2001-31 December 2001.
The latest estimates of revenue loss from cross-border
shopping and all forms of oils fraud were published in the Government
paper, Measuring Indirect Tax Fraud, a copy of which is
in the House of Commons library.
Customs cannot, at this stage, differentiate
between the revenue loss from legitimate cross-border shopping
and from the fraudulent evasion of road fuel duty, nor between
different types of fraud, such as smuggling, misuse of rebated
fuels, laundering or mixing.
(a) What was the total fuel (by tonnage and
category) brought into Northern Ireland (via Sydenham) in the
years ended 31 March 1992 and 31 March 1997, and in each of the
periods cited in (c) above?
Set out below are the total deliveries of duty
paid fuel (in tonnes) into Northern Ireland as collected by the
Department of Trade and Industry.
||Total road fuel
|31 March 1992
|31 March 1993
|31 March 1994
|31 March 1995
|31 March 1996
|31 March 1997
|31 March 1998
|31 March 1999
|31 March 2000
|31 March 2001
We are currently attempting to find out the extent to which
the fuel accounted for here was delivered into Sydenham alone.
Once we have made further progress on this I will contact you.
16 January 2002