HMRC: The Control and Facilitation of Imports - Public Accounts Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum from UK Border Agency, Home Office

  During my oral evidence to the Committee on 9 March in relation to the above NAO report I undertook to write to you with regards to what the UK Border Agency (UKBA) is doing to help counter terrorism at the border.

  Programme Cyclamen is a joint initiative between UKBA and the Home Office. It forms a key element of the UK's Counter-Terrorism Strategy CONTEST (PROTECT) and represents a major step towards reducing the threat to the UK from a terrorist attack. Its purpose is to detect and deter the importation of radioactive or nuclear materials by terrorists or criminals.

  Programme Cyclamen consists of both fixed and mobile capabilities, operated by Border Force officers. A number of fixed portals have already been installed at major sea and airports, known as Early Capability sites, and are operating successfully. This is complemented by a fleet of Mobile Radiation Detection Units (MRDUs).

  SERCO, the system provider, are installing the strategic fixed capability detection portals at 40 plus selected points of entry throughout the UK. The current date for roll out is August 2009.

  Cyclamen screens a significant volume of sea and rail traffic including containers, freight, vehicles and passengers that pass through the portals. If there is an alarm, trained Border Force officers will use handheld devices to further investigate the source of the radioactivity and the type of radiation present.

  The MRDUs are deployed on a risk and intelligence-led basis throughout the UK. The Police also have access to the MRDUs through the Border Force, for inland VIP or public events, again on a risk basis. In such cases the MRDU would be deployed with a Border Force crew, working in collaboration with the Police.

  All of the detection equipment used is entirely passive. It does not emit any radiation and is safe for objects and people subject to screening.

24 March 2009

previous page contents

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 21 July 2009