Further supplementary memorandum submitted
by the Northern Ireland Office
Thank you for your letter of 25 March to David
Watkins, in which you requested a range of statistical information
in preparation for the Committee's meeting with Jane Kennedy on
10 April. David has asked me to reply.
Most of the information that you wanted is held
by PSNI and Customs and it is their responsibility both to collate
it and authorise its release. However, in the case of convictions,
we discovered only when we received the police return that they
do not keep records themselves and that we would have to approach
the Court Service for them. Unfortunately, we have not been able
to do that in the time available but we will continue to make
efforts to get that information for the Committee.
As far as operational successes are concerned,
PSNI could only give a flavour in the time available, but I enclose
what they have been able to provide. Unfortunately, in several
cases, the information is either not available in the form you
want through current crime recording systems (eg the quantity
of assets used for production, transportation or sale of illegal
goods) or cannot be extracted without in-depth research (eg the
quantity of assets, such as firearms, used to facilitate organised
crime). Most disappointingly for the Committee, I suspect, is
the fact that the police did not use a definition of organised
crime before the inception of the OCTF and so cannot provide a
list of operational successes for the period 1 March 1999 to 30
As for Customs, they tell us they provided the
Committee with details of their operational activity in the two-day
briefing session you spent in Belfast in February and in their
formal evidence session with you in March. The enclosed note therefore
simply includes further examples of Customs' operational activity
in a Northern Ireland context.
I am sorry that, given the short notice, combined
with the Easter break, it has not proved possible for either the
police or Customs to produce the level and detail of information
for which you asked. For example, the Central Statistics Branch
of the PSNI collect figures by financial year and are currently
working full-time on year-end figures for the Chief Constable's
Annual Report so that material is simply not available as yet.
Meanwhile, I know that Customs have a particular problem in relation
to providing information for the financial year 2001-02.
However, both the police and Customs have suggested
that you might approach them direct, if you would like more information
in slower time. So you may like to do so, when you have digested
what is here.
8 April 2002
SUCCESSES AGAINST ORGANISED CRIME
Drugs FY 2001-02
Drugs Squad undertook 177 operations.
These operations resulted in 81 arrests.
The following amounts of drugs were
|Drug type||Amount seized
|Type of goods||Number of items seized
Total value approximately £4,000,000.
Quantity of Cash Seized or Held in Bank Accounts
In 2001, four restraint orders were applied for by PSNI.
During the same period £318,771 was ordered to be confiscated.
As part of the national anti-tobacco smuggling strategy,
enforcement activity in Northern Ireland has increased. Recent
operational successes in Northern Ireland include:
350,000 cigarettes in air passenger traffic from
30 million cigarettes in two seizures by Republic
of Ireland agencies following close co-operation between UK Customs
and Republic of Ireland agencies;
2 million cigarettes in freight traffic from Rotterdam;
1.5 million cigarettes from two national strikeforce
exercises targeting air passenger smuggling; and
43 million cigarettes seized at Warrenpoint in
freight traffic from Eastern Europe.
Hydrocarbon Oils Smuggling and Fraud
Customs' enhancement of resources dedicated to tackling oils
fraud has resulted in an increase in enforcement activity, including:
sentencing of a man from County Armagh to two
and a half years in prison for his role in a major fuel smuggling
operation. His criminal activities resulted in the evasion of
more than £6 million;
a multi-agency operation in December 2001 involving
agencies from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland,
during which 31 premises were searched and cash, computer hard
drives, business records and assorted documentation were uplifted.
Subsequently nine people were charged in connection with the evasion
of road fuel excise duty and money laundering offences. These
cases have yet to come to court;
two laundering plants were broken up in South
Armagh each with the capacity to produce up to five million litres
of laundered red diesel each year worth £2.5 million in lost
duty. Large quantities of fuel and acid were seized along with
vehicles and laundering equipment.
There is evidence that operational activity has stabilized
and, indeed, that the position has slightly improved. Most important,
the latest available figures show that deliveries of legal product
to Northern Ireland have risen for the first time in five years.
A facility for producing and bottling illegal spirit drinks
based on industrial ethanol was found at Coalisland, Co Tyrone
in September 2001. Officers located and dismantled the illicit
bottling plant and seized equipment including a generator, compressors
and a 30,000 litre tank. 26,300 litres of counterfeit "Vodka"
and nearly 600,000 smuggled cigarettes were also seized. The discovery
of 18 pallets of empty 1-litre bottles indicated that the product
of this operation was intended for distribution to the public.