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  1. Hi All I am not sure if people are aware of the charges by customs in the UK for gifts sent to family and friends. I have lived here for 6 years and posted (as you may imagine) many presents over this time. The last few i have been late sending so used Express Courier International. This is a 'quick' service which has proved to be a joke! They are suppised to take around 3 working days, each one i have sent has taken at least 2 weeks! They get held up at the sorting office, then when tracking it states 'delivery attempted' NO CARD IS LEFT, then when they do deliver they take to to any neighbour who happens to be in and get them to sign for it! Very secure NOT!!!! Anyway, i paid $80 to send my sisters 50th birthday presents on 1 October, they got held in customs and she has had to pay VAT and clearance fees on her present. Apparently these fees have always been there (even though there have never been charges before), so i have checked into this, after speakng with a 'stroppy Essex Girl' at Romford ( and i am from Essex so this is not a dig), who told me to call customs and then calling customs 10 times (from Brisbane at 11.41pm so i am tired and feeling stroppy) only to be constantly cut off as soon as the call goes through - i can hear them talking to each other!!!!! :arghh: I have found the following: 2.3 What are the limits for customs duty and import VAT? Commercial consignments of £18 or less are free from customs duty and import VAT. For example, goods purchased over the internet with an intrinsic value not exceeding £18, will not be charged any duty or VAT but this does not include alcohol, tobacco products, perfume or toilet waters, see paragraph 2.5, 2.6 and section 3. If you are sent a gift with a value of £36 or less, and which complies ,with the rules shown in paragraph 2.4. it will be free from customs duty and import VAT, but this does not include alcohol, tobacco, perfumes and toilet waters. Customs duty becomes payable if the value of the goods is over £120 but duty is waived if the amount of duty calculated is less than £7. There are a number of other circumstances where relief from some or all customs charges may be available. If you think your goods may be eligible for a relief you should contact the Helpline for further information. top ^ 2.4 Gifts Goods sent as a gift that are over £36 in value are liable to import VAT. Customs duty also becomes payable if the value of the goods is over £120 but is waived if the amount of duty calculated is less than £7. To qualify as a gift: the customs declaration must be completed correctly the gift must be sent from a private person outside the EU to a private person(s) in this country there is no commercial or trade element and the gift has not been paid for either directly or indirectly the gift is of an occasional nature only, for example, for a birthday or anniversary. Please note if you purchase goods from outside the EU to give as a gift to a relative or friend, whether or not addressed to that person, is treated as a ‘commercial consignment’ for which the import VAT relief threshold is £18 (paragraph 2.3 refers). top ^ 2.5 Do gifts of alcohol and tobacco products qualify for relief from import duties and import VAT? NO. Excise duty is payable on all alcohol and tobacco products regardless of whether they are a gift. Oh, and to top it all, she arrives here on Monday for a 3 week holiday so i should have just held them till she arrived! So, in future i will be sending several small parcels, all under 18 pounds in value or otherwise just lie about the value!! Rant over Cheryl
  2. Hi We have been in Sydney for 8 weeks now and our ship docked yesterday, I wondered how long it took for the containers to arrive at the door??? I am desperate to have all our things around us, and my son needs to have all his toys etc....... We are really hoping to be in our house for Christmas as we are staying in a serviced apartments and its driving us mad!!!:goofy: would be great to hear of others experiances with this :biggrin:
  3. Gin100

    Sea shells

    Has anyone tried to take sea shells into Australia, either in the shipping container or in hand luggage? Did customs let them through & did they need fumigating? If so, how much did it cost? We have a small collection that we would like to take with us but we're getting different stories from the removals companies - one said no, one said yes, another said we'd have to varnish them and another said take in hand luggage on the plane. As far as I can tell, hand luggage is subject to the same DAFF restrictions as shipping by sea so I'm not sure how this helps.... Thanks!
  4. Hi guys! So I've decided to travel to the Gold Coast to stay with family, it's been a very quick decision... I'm coming alone and I am sooo excited! Although I won't know anyone around my age to do all of the travelling part with, and I plan to stay 2 years.. So gunna do my 3 months in farming.. Anyone else got the same plans or fancy trading advice?! I also have a question for you people that have already travelled. I won't have the standard $5000 dollars due to my quick decision making and my family have agreed to be 'financially responsible' for me. Will this be okay? How many of you were questioned at customs about your financial stability? I'm worried!
  5. I emigrated in 2008 on a partner visa and only just getting around to shipping personal possessions which I have left with my dad. It is only 2 boxes containing, crockery, cutlery , records and a guitar ive completed the relevant forms, posted them to my dad and he and he is obtaining quotes but one potential shipper is claiming I need to pay for customs inspection fees of around $120. I have contacted customs and they never mentioned this, I just need the paperwork. Who is correct? can anyone who has imported personal goods explain the process as Customs are not very helpful thanks
  6. ok so ill be leaving uk on 24th december flying with etihad airways, im flying from dub - abu dhabi - sydney - brisbane, all made in one booking, however im wondering as to whether i go through customs and immigration at sydney or brisbane or even at both ? the entirety of the trip was booked with sta , and its all on one flight ticket
  7. Moving to Oz and I am looking at the U.P. Affects statement I need to complete for the packers info. and one must declare any items owned by you for less than 12 months. This is a very ambiguous question on the form as they have not indicated anything above a certain value. I personally think this probably refers to items of high value ie.TVs, sofas etc. but do I need to include the small stuff like my kitchen items (ie new boxes of plastic bags, silver foil that I usually buy in bulk although I only have one new box of each), what about personal apparel likes clothes and shoes I have bought in the past few months. (Only ordinary brands so not expensive designer stuff). Surely they don't expect one to declare all the bitty bits. I think this is a bit silly however I am worried if I don't put something on the form they will think I am being untruthful and give me a hard time. Has anyone had any experience of not declaring small items and having problems with clearance? Does anyone knows of a weblink or email to customs queries where I can ask them? This seems very trivial I know but Customs are Customs and can be quite difficult even if you have nothing to hide. Surely there must be a guide somewhere otherwise the forms would be pages long with stupid declarations. I bought a new toothbrush last week??? :twitcy: Hope someone can help. Any customs members out there please? :unsure: Thanks a bunch. http://www.customs.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/effects2.pdf
  8. Hello! Hoping someone can help me... I have made the very traumatic decision to go back to the UK after 5 happy years in Aus (sob). I don't really have that much stuff that i need to keep, so I was thinking maybe just send it air freight/unaccompanied baggage. Prices seem quite reasonable, but I'm thinking there must be some sneaky import customs taxes, duties type things for when my stuff arrives at Heathrow - does anyone know anything about this? I can't find the info online. Basically, if there are lots of sneaky costs, I'll just buy the more expensive BA flight and get extra luggage. I did think about shipping, but the man at the freight company seemed to think that was a rubbish idea - talk about needing professional packers, and having to pick up the stuff from Dover myself. It sounded too hard and pretty expensive. Would really appreciate any advice xxx
  9. We are currently packing boxes to send with the post office in Spain, We have decided on the slower option of sea rather then air. They have given us a simple form CP72/pem to fill out with 3 lines for contents and said to generalize whats in the box (clothes/kitchenware/shoes etc) Does anybody know if this is sufficient for Australia? should we be contacting the Customs dept or anything like that , we are sending to our sisters house , would it be better to use her name or ours? thanks
  10. Chaps General consensus is that it is about 7-10 days before they release it although it does depend, I know, on other circumstances. when I shipped items before it was about 7 days, but Kent Moving, over here, advised that with our ship docking in Melbourne on the 17 Feb, we would not see our stuff until 7 or 8 March. That seems a very long time, so can anyone advise the length of time they have waited, recently, for their container to be released and thus delivered? Thanks Sip
  11. Unless you want to spend a few days in jail and a $50k legal battle :wideeyed: http://www.terminalu.com/travel-destinations/australia-pacific/australia/100000-payout-for-man-wrongly-accused-of-smuggling-drugs-in-pantene-shampoo/19898/
  12. Guest

    car customs duty

    hi i have had a quote for my volvo v70 for shipping but what am i likely to pay at other end for tax... its prob worth less than 5k bought for 12k 5 years ago i hear it is 10% is this 10% of its value or original cost ...any info pls alan:confused:shipping uk to perth
  13. Hi all we are about 8 months from the off and have decided to start packing. can we just bung everything in boxes with a general discription of the contents; or will we need a full detailed inventory of each box. also can we take things like oil based room smellies etc. ideally a link to the rules would be fab, i'm not having a lot of joy finding anything detailed on the tinterweb. :arghh:
  14. I'm not sure if this is in the right forum so feel free to move if not. Am due to head out to Adelaide at the end of this year on a 309 spouse via with my OH who is originally from down under. Over the past few years in the UK we have built up quite a shared collection of DVDs (100 or so) and CDs. My plan is to buy a massive capacity external hard drive and spend a good few hours (or even days) copying all of our music and films over. I would then take this over in hand luggage instead of either having to part with all of our media, or pay to have it shipped over. The originals would not be sold - they'll go into storage with my parents. My understanding is, although I may well be wrong, that it is OK under UK law to make backups of media I own for personal use (although circumventing the DVD copy protection is a bit of a grey area). Can anyone advise if this is likely to cause any problems with Customs? I understand how this might look like I am taking a load of films into the country to sell - but that is not the case. As ripping these DVDs is likely to take many many hours I really don't want to risk having the drive confiscated, or get into any trouble :policeman: Any advice gratefully received :err: .
  15. JoandJon

    Customs strike on Tuesday

    I was happily surfing away when I came across this article in the age, and just in case nobody else was aware have posted the link. In short - there might be some delays in customs/quarantine processing at all Australian international airports on Tuesday. I also saw this rather interesting opinion piece in the Age online - well I think it was interesting anyway It's nice to see someone stand up and say 'you've got it good!' Link to an article in the Age Cheers
  16. Guest

    Customs

    Hey All, We are moving out to Sydney from the UK at the end of October and are going to be shipping a box over as well. We have allot of clothes and electronics but no furniture so it's just the one box over our flight luggage. Basically I'm wondering how customs and Import tax works out in Australia. I've decided to take my desktop computer out with me mainly as it's relatively new ( a few months ) and 2nd hand values for it here aren't great. It's not an expensive system (£400) + a large 23 inch screen. If I take this in as hand luggage rather than boxed am I less likely to get taxed on it's import? If I am going to get charged to bring in 2nd hand Electronics, How much would it be for something like this? I'm thinking if it's allot it's not going to be worth the hassle. Other 2nd hand electronics include an Xbox and laptops. Also if the tax is dependent on the value am I worth bringing the receipt so I can prove it's not worth 1000's? How would they work out a desktop as they would likely look the same as a very expensive system? Thanks for any advice Boab88
  17. Afternoon all... Just realised that my car will be arriving on the 19th Sept and I will need to secure a customs broker to see it through the arrivals procedure. I was thinking of doing this myself but just don't have the time. Has anyone got any idea as to the likely cost of this and also, recommendations of a good broker would also be great. Thanks in advance
  18. Hi, I've been told to expect at least a 1-2 hrs wait to get through Customs at the airport as they check the actual contents of your luggage. Anyone had any recent experiences of going through Customs in Melbourne? My flight gets in at 910pm so trying to estimate how long my friend will be waiting for me. Thanks :wink:
  19. Hi all, We're half way through packing all of our stuff ready for the move to Aus and because our cargo guy speaks very lite English, it's difficult to get an answer for anything so I was hoping you guys could help? We have about 250kgs of stuff all packed into two metal chests and two Wooden boxes (just TVs in the wooden boxes) and the value is probably near $20k. About 4 items are less then 12m old (so I know we'll be charged GST on the $2k value for those. What charges are we going to incur when the cargo arrives in Melbourne? Gov website is confusing and hard to read on an iPhone (no other internet access!). I understand we'll need a Customs Clearance which costs and unclear amount. The shipper says he pays nothing other than the cost to GET the stuff to Aus - nothing else. Will we need an inspection or is that based on what our inventory looks like? There's no untreated wood or things of dubious origin. Any other costs? I don't want the stuff to rock up and we get asked to fork out $1000+. The shipping company we use is being imposed upon us for various reasons so changing shipper isn't an option :-( Any help would be really appreciated! Thanks, Stuart
  20. Guest

    Fumigation at Customs??

    Hi, I am in the process of getting quotes from shipping companies, I was speaking to one today and he told me that in 90% of cases the shipment is fumigated for which you are charged, however he couldnt give me a rough price for this. Has anyone experienced this and what sort of price is it?? Thanks Valerie :chatterbox:
  21. Hi All I know iron chef has an extensive thread but I thought I would ask. My car is being shipped over in a 20ft container on its own and it has a few personal items in the boot. I have all my paperwork from the shipper and my import approval cert from Australia. Question: Can I clear it through customs myself or do I need a customs agent? As for registering, the mechanic who does all the work cars has offered to do the rego and pink slips. Thanks in advance Rob Mona Vale, Sydney
  22. motherof2

    Customs form query

    OH is currently completeing the form B534 and has got stuck on section 8 'soil or earth or goods containing soil or earth, rock or mineral samples' I have a small collection of semi precious rocks such as amethyst, smokey and rose quartz, diopside etc. All brought from shops many years ago so have no receipts. We also have varnished leopard shell. I do have a small piece of coral which was gievn to me as a child so I presume I can't take that. Are these OK to bring?
  23. Hi all, Prob a stupid question, but first time to Oz to validate visa's. Will soon be flying into Sydney & get connecting flight to Brisbane. Will customs check us out at Sydney or at Brisbane? Only ask because if delayed at Sydney, might miss connecting flight to Brisbane. I'm sure that I am just trying to find things to fret over, because everything else seems to have gone so well. My own feeling is our bags get transferred and we only go through customs when we leave airport. Can anyone confirm either way. Funny how I've not really travelled much before outside the odd holiday, and now moving to Brisbane in about 12 months, really excited though!!:arghh:
  24. Hi I've accepted a new job with an Australian employer and am starting with them in November in Sydney We've started the process of working out what to take and decluttering/selling/dumping the rest I have heard a few stories about what Australian customs reject or slow up - just wanted to check a few questions about that I'm guessing that everything that gets used outdoors has to be spotlessly clean - so garden furniture, garden tools, pushbikes, outdoor toys and so on. Is there anything in that category that just always gets rejected so I may as well not bother packing (I doubt a lawnmower will ever clean up sufficiently, for example)? The other thing that worries me is wooden indoor furniture. In the UK we have a very old house with quite a bit of antique furniture. None of it has live woodworm, but a fair bit has been subject to woodworm attack in the past. Anyone know what if anything we have to do to get that through? Also any other hidden traps I might not know about? All advice gratefully received TIA
  25. A pastor with a well-thumbed Bible. A smartly dressed businessman in suit and tie. A British pensioner with a cool box full of fish and meat... Can you guess which one is trying to smuggle illegal contraband into the UK?* Adam Luck joins the frontline battle to secure Britain's borders (*Answer: It's all three) An X-ray image of a Caribbean woman arrested at Gatwick Airport. Pellets of cocaine, ringed here in red, were spotted by UK Border Agency officials when the woman went through the full body scanner With a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders, a thirtysomething South American opens his suitcase. He looks cool and calm. Inside there’s an apparently anarchic collection of jackets, men’s T-shirts, children’s trousers and a woman’s dress jumbled up alongside computer cables, phone chargers and assorted odds and ends. The suitcase doesn’t reveal any obviously damning evidence – no drugs, weapons or animals are visible. But 29-year-old UK Border Agency (UKBA) officer Richard Franklin can see beyond the chaotic contents of the luggage, and alerts his colleagues that they have a potential drug mule in their midst. We are in the green customs channel of Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal on a Wednesday morning and tanned passengers coming off the Thomson Airways flight from Jamaica’s Montego Bay are shuffling through with their duty free shopping. Five UKBA officers are standing by with arms crossed – some wearing rubber gloves – under the watchful eye of chief immigration officer Paul Kidd, but for the time being they are happy to let their colleague deal with it. At the same time as he unravels the tangled innards of the suitcase, Franklin also unpicks the complex itinerary of the stocky Venezuelan man who talks in halting English as he tries to explain his journey and his bag. ‘A woman gave me some clothes,’ he says. ‘I was in Port Of Spain. I take them for her.’ The reason why is never made clear, but what is plain is that this passenger’s itinerary has set alarm bells ringing because of his circuitous, expensive route from Venezuela to London. Starting in Caracas, the man travelled to Trinidad’s Port of Spain and on to London, and he was then scheduled to continue to Amsterdam. His ‘holiday’ was supposed to last all of four days. ‘His route is highly unusual and suspicious,’ says Franklin. ‘Why would an ordinary Venezuelan travel along such an expensive route and spend only four days on holiday before travelling back? He also admitted he had never been to Amsterdam before. It made no sense. ‘His bag also fits the profile of a “dummy” case that we often see with couriers, who are either swallowers or who conceal drugs in their baggage. They then throw together any clothes or items to make it look as if the trip is legitimate. But why would he be travelling alone with women’s and children’s clothes?’ With no signs that the suitcase had any concealed panels Franklin begins to suspect that the South American may have swallowed dozens of cocaine-filled condoms in order to smuggle them into the UK. The size of cocktail sausages, these tiny packages are swallowed one at a time. The average is between 80-110 packages per person, which can equate to up to 1.5kg of cocaine. Once mixed with cutting agents, this would have a street value of up to £300,000. Experienced swallowers can carry even more pellets. The Gatwick record, which is held by a Jamaican woman, is a barely believable 205 pellets – almost 2.5kg of drugs. A Spanish-speaking UKBA officer is called for, and the man is told he can volunteer for a full body scan or face the prospect of being detained and missing his connecting flight. With a nod the suspect is taken through a door in the back of the hall and ushered into a narrow corridor well away from other passengers, before being taken into the scanner room. Franklin takes his seat alongside a colleague behind a desk with two screens. The suspect, who looks surprisingly sanguine, is instructed to sign various forms while the UKBA officers start up the scanner. Wearing a pair of jeans, jerkin jacket, blue-and-white-striped shirt and black slip-on trainers, the close-cropped South American empties his pockets before stripping down to his trousers and socks. In the small airless room the suspect moves towards the scanner while he is instructed to breathe in and out. Within seconds amazingly clear images begin to flash up on the screens that lay bare the man’s body in intimate detail. If he is a ‘swallower’, then tell-tale circular shadows will show up in the man’s stomach. There are none on this man: he is clean. ‘The thing is, a smuggler can be anyone,’ says Paul Kidd, walking out of the room. ‘We have had them wearing suits and looking like the perfect businessman. They do not always fit into the stereotype.’ In April they even had a pastor. ‘He really looked the part and had all these well-thumbed Bibles in his suitcase. I think he was a genuine pastor,’ says officer Johnson Awoyomi. ‘He had flyers for his services and said he was on his way to Nigeria for a revivalist conference. He had flown in from Antigua but lived in Trinidad and was just passing through the UK. We asked him if he would voluntarily go through the scanner and he agreed. He was a swallower. He just sat there looking genuinely bewildered and kept saying that he was a “Good Christian”.’ Those caught with condom pellets are funnelled back into the corridor where a cell awaits them just 20 yards away. They will be detained until they ‘pass’ their drugs into the stainless steel ‘Drugaloo’. Some swallowers refuse to cooperate in the hope that they can conceal the evidence but this can mean a long wait. ‘One guy wouldn’t eat anything,’ says Kidd. ‘We were getting a bit fed up waiting for him to pass the pellets so in the end some of the staff ate fish and chips outside his custody suite. He got so hungry he had to eat and, in the end, it all came out. But the price these couriers pay can be very high. A couple of years ago one lady collapsed and died here. The drugs had leaked out from the pellets.’ According to Richard Franklin, fewer than one in ten stopped are found to have swallowed drugs. ‘You look at their profiles and any inconsistencies in their stories but there is never a guarantee of a result,’ he says. Instead of taking a left out of the scanner room towards the Drugaloo, the South American takes a right and finds his way back into the customs channel and freedom. He will travel on to Amsterdam and then home. The chances are that he will be back in the future. Whether he will be stopped again is far from clear. Created in 2008, the UKBA merged the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) with the crime busting functions of Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The logic underlying its creation is that since the organised criminal groups who smuggle illegal immigrants into the UK are often the same people who smuggle illegal goods into the country it makes sense to have a unified agency. Although there are currently 25,000 staff at the UKBA the agency is expected to take a 20 per cent budget cut as part of the Government’s spending review, with nearly 7,000 staff expected to go over the next four years. The unions have predicted that this could lead to even greater illegal immigration, but as alarming is that the UK’s borders could be compromised when it comes to detecting and seizing illegal drugs, weapons or worse. Indeed, the rush to deal with public concern over illegal immigration may have serious repercussions. Recent reports by John Vine, independent chief inspector of the UKBA, suggest that too often detection of contraband came second to the crackdown on immigration. Given the explosion in global trade and travel into and through the UK, this is no idle threat. One of the downsides of globalisation has been the parallel expansion in transnational networks of criminals and international terrorism. At Gatwick there are around 560 staff who focus on immigration and detection, whether it is freight or people. Gatwick is Europe’s ninth busiest airport, with 31 million passengers passing through last year. Any chance that the UKBA staff numbers could be depleted and performance impaired shouldn’t be taken lightly because the stakes are high. Just how high can be seen in the green customs channel at Gatwick. The Cyclamen gate, which passengers routinely walk under, is a radiation scanner designed to prevent the importation of so-called dirty bombs by detecting nuclear and radiological materials that could be used by terrorists. The machine was introduced in the aftermath of the radiation poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. Russian agents were suspected of bringing in radioactive material through Heathrow Airport. As soon as an alarm sounds a CCTV camera starts taking images of the suspect. Thus far no one has been arrested at Gatwick for triggering the alarm but Cyclamen machines have now been deployed across Britain’s ports and airports. The Itemiser is another detection machine, which tests samples of luggage and clothing for traces of heroin or cocaine. A simple swab is fed into the machine which can register ‘drugs detected’. Anything above a one per cent trace is taken as serious enough to warrant closer inspection and such is the sensitivity of the machine that it can detect drugs in the sweat of swallowers, which can often be found in and around their shoes. They are joined by full body scanners, which can help identify Class A drugs concealed under clothes or inside the body. But however much technology is introduced, you still need the trained eye. Back in the customs channel at Gatwick, Kidd and his team are getting on with their jobs. One passenger, who looks East African in origin but holds a British passport, has been stopped by officer Pravin Patel. His suitcase contains packets marked ‘Sildenafil Citrate’, more commonly known as Viagra, but the packets hint that these are counterfeit medicines. Boxes of Benson & Hedges and Embassy cigarettes also exceed his personal allowance, so he loses all the boxes. At an adjoining table a Polish man, with heavily accented English, is arguing the point with Johnson Awoyomi over his large cache of cigarettes and bags of biltong, which he has brought in from South Africa. ‘I take a chance…’ admits the passenger. Awoyomi eventually sends the gentleman on his way minus his cigarettes and dried meat. ‘He knew he was taking a risk. You don’t have three cigarette brands for personal use.’ Passengers who try to bring in more than their allotted amount of cigarettes are logged on a computer and if they are caught for a third time they can find themselves arrested and charged. Biltong, however, is just a very modest example of the strange and exotic items that Patel and his colleagues come across. ‘I had a headless monkey once,’ says Kidd. ‘It was a man from Sierra Leone who had been held up for immigration reasons. We opened the case and there was this monkey. I think it had been cured or smoked. ‘You get all sorts: rotting fish used to be quite common; people would bring them in from West Africa. Once we had someone come in with 20 bags of manky fish.’ But some of the passengers moving along the customs channels at Gatwick have far more illicit contraband on board. At 64, Patel is one of the oldest and most experienced officers. He has seen it all. ‘One South African couple came into the terminal at 7am,’ he remembers. ‘They had flown from Jo’burg via Dubai. They had 40 kilos of cannabis in blocks on them. He pleaded guilty. ‘Another time we had a retired British couple. He had been a London Underground driver. They went to Kingston, Jamaica, and came back with two cool boxes. They used fish and meat to cover six kilos of cocaine. Their story was just not right, which is why we stopped them. The lady got 13 years.’ Patel has become immune to the temper tantrums and insults. ‘You sometimes get shouting and bags being thrown but we have a lot of power here. I know how to calm them down: I just ignore them and carry on with the work. When you pull someone you start talking to them and the bells start to ring if the story does not match. You ask questions around drugs, allowances, baggage, the nature of the journey, their employment, how often they travel and where they go. You also have a look in their passport because the stamps usually tell you a story.’ As he talks a young African man walks by waving a piece of paper and smiling. Kidd pipes up: ‘We allow temporary admission to allow further enquiries by immigration officers. We take their passport while we check out their story.’ The UKBA also has staff abroad to help profile potential suspects. Often the luggage and the passenger will already have had their fate sealed before they are reunited on the baggage carousel because sniffer dogs paw over the mountains of bags being brought out of the aeroplane holds. Clare Honeyman and sniffer dog Flynn are on duty at Gatwick. Flynn, who has been trained in-house, has been working his beat for a year. ‘Spaniels are the best because they have the drive and motivation,’ she says. ‘It is a good game for them: they smell the heroin and cocaine and they get to play with a tennis ball as their reward. Our best haul was six kilos of cocaine last year. 'If we get a positive the bag goes back on the belt and is watched in the baggage hall before the passenger is pulled as they walk through the customs channel.’ Once customs detection officers and immigration officials at Gatwick were strictly delineated, but the UKBA now wants multi-disciplinary teams that can attend to both tasks. This multi-tasking kicks in this summer, but some officers are concerned about the long-term implications. ‘What we are looking for has not changed but the priorities of the management have because of politics,’ claims one officer, who asked to remain anonymous. ‘At the moment it is all about illegals. I feel like we have all our eggs in one basket with immigration, which is why so many drugs are on the street.’ For the Gatwick officers dealing with the realities of an ever-shrinking workforce and ever-increasing numbers of passengers and freight, such developments may appear largely academic but they are aware of what is at stake for the UK. After 20 years in the job Kerry Smith, 40, is still as dedicated to defending Britain’s borders today as the day she started it. ‘I want to do the best I can,’ she says. ‘We all do. I just hope that the politicians are listening.’
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