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Consular news – Embassy 24 – April 2010

Protecting UK borders

With more than 220 million people and 440 million tonnes of goods entering Britain every year, and the Olympic Games only two years away, securing Britain’s borders has undergone a major overhaul, consuls learned at a recent briefing.

Ian Devalle, Assistant Director of Intelligence and National Operations at the UKBA, explained the merging of the customs arm of HMRC and the immigration functions of the Home Office into an integrated border agency to prevent the trafficking of people into Britain and to intercept contraband and counterfeit goods.

Last year 750 million cigarettes were found, along with Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

New high-tech scanners are used to detect carbon dioxide in cargoes concealing smuggled people and equipment can also identify hazardous materials, including substances emitting radiation – although trucks of bananas, with their high potassium content, do cause the occasional false alarm, he admitted.

The Olympics will pose a particular challenge, he added, with 350,000 additional visitors entering through UK ports, not to mention all the Olympic equipment, “including 250 horses!” said Mr Devalle.

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Ian Devalle, Assistant Director of Intelligence and National Operations at the UKBA
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