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`Unified force at Stansted effective against illegal immigration, smuggling’


Team removed 12 immigration offenders, seized £144,692


11th January 2010:
The UK Border Agency has claimed that its unified force at Stansted, with the powers to carry out customs and immigration checks, was proving effective in cracking down on illegal immigration and smuggling.

The Agency claimed in recent months its team identified and removed 12 immigration offenders and seized £144,692.

The assertion came soon after an immigration offender, found working illegally in the UK, was returned to Albania without his ill-gotten gains after he was caught at Stansted Airport by a new UK Border Agency team.

The Agency claimed this was just one example of the successes that were being achieved at Stansted as a result of the strengthened UK border controls that came into force in July, bringing frontline customs and immigration officers together into one organisation – the UK Border Agency.

The team, formerly a purely customs operation, were among the first officers at Stansted to benefit from becoming part of a new unified border force.

The team’s priorities are twofold – to identify and seize crime-related cash, often proceeds from the drug trade, and to identify immigration offenders who are leaving the country, enabling the UK Border Agency to bar their return and cut off access to benefits and illegal jobs.

Marc Owen, the UK Border Agency’s new regional border force director covering Stansted Airport, said: ‘Our unified force at the border with the powers to carry out customs and immigration checks, allows us to continue the crackdown on illegal immigration and smuggling.

‘Immigration training enabled officers to spot an illegal worker from Albania when the lack of a visa in his passport prompted concern. The man later admitted he had entered the UK illegally and had subsequently been working cash in hand.

‘The man was carrying £1,100 in cash which was seized. On its own it would not have been enough to cause suspicion, but thanks to the training and vigilance of staff, this immigration offender has enjoyed a financially fruitless stay in the UK.’

Following court orders, any money seized is held for three months while investigations are under way. It is then confiscated and returned to the public purse if it is shown to be associated with criminal activity.

The Agency said the benefits of the united border force were also evident on Christmas Day when frontline immigration officers, using their new customs training, stopped an attempt to smuggle 41,660 cigarettes and 296 50g packets of hand rolling tobacco into the UK.

The cigarettes were seized from four passengers arriving on a flight from Turkey.
Owen said: ‘The cigarettes would no doubt have ended up on the black market, impacting on genuine retailers and being sold with no regard to who is buying the tobacco products, including children.’

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