More customs staff for port

THIRTY more customs officers will be brought in to beef up security at Felixstowe port by mid summer, it emerged today.The number is half of the intake due to be taken on at the docks in a bid to counter drug smuggling and terrorism.

THIRTY more customs officers will be brought in to beef up security at Felixstowe port by mid summer, it emerged today.

The number is half of the intake due to be taken on at the docks in a bid to counter drug smuggling and terrorism.

In November the Evening Star reported in excess of 60 officers were being recruited for the Suffolk port as part of an extra 200 customs staff nationwide.

Aside from Felixstowe, officers were being sought to work at ports in Dover, Liverpool, Hull, Immingham, Manchester and Liverpool.


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The first batch of officers for Felixstowe are understood to be on a two to three-month training course.

Their primary role will be to combat drug smuggling through the port, but they will also be on the lookout for illegal firearms and the possibility of dirty bombs as part of anti-terrorist measures.

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They will not be armed, but will have the support of armed guards already in place at the port. Weapons-trained support officers will be just a call away.

Although another 30 officers are scheduled to be recruited in the next financial year, is it unclear if government plans to create an FBI-style organisation could change the agenda.

An announcement is due to be made in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon about the elite squad of crime-fighters.

It is thought the force of around 5,000 strong will merge customs, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the National Crime Squad and possibly the Immigration Service.

A link with the Inland Revenue is likely to follow at some time in the future with thousands more people joining the force.

It is believed HM Customs may play a pivotal role, with somewhere between 1,100 and 1,300 officers presently working for it being drafted into the new force.

Although it is being kept a closely guarded secret one name being touted as the possible head of the organisation is Richard Broadbent, a former chairman of HM Customs.

The 50-year-old was appointed to the role of chairman of Customs & Excise in December 2001.

Before that, he spent ten years with the Treasury and worked in investment banking.

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