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Cornwall's Last Custom's House Closes

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7:01am 31st March 2012

There are fears drugs smuggling could rise in Cornwall, as our last Customs house shuts.

The base at Falmouth has been open for nearly two hundred years.

Shoppers in the town say they are concerned. One local said, "As far as things like drugs are concerned, if there is likely to be an increase, I'm not that happy about it shutting down."

Another warned, "There is bound to be an increase. It's always been a bad coastline for smuggling from that point of view. It is still a port, and the custom house itself, it's a part of Falmouth, it's got to be preserved."

Police insist our safety is not at risk, and say they work closely with local boat owners and crews to help cut marine crime.

Sergeant Chris Miles is based in Falmouth. He said, "My understanding is that some of that responsibility will pass to the UK Border Agency, so we will still have that liaison with an agency to protect the borders and coastline, so it's not an immediate fear that there will be a massive problem.

"The Customs agencies still have their capabilities that we can call on from other areas. There's always the potential that those sort of offences can happen anywhere. People shouldn't be fearful that it will increase these issues."

A spokesperson for the UK Border Agency said, "Falmouth Custom House has not been an operational base for several years, with customs and immigration checks carried out by mobile teams from Plymouth and elsewhere.

“Given Cornwall’s lengthy coastline and large number of small ports and harbours, a static thin blue line of staff based permanently at a single port is not the most effective way to cover the county. Using mobile teams allows Border Force officers to go, on an intelligence-led basis, to where the risk is greatest.

“Passengers and crew arriving at Cornwall’s ports are checked against watchlists before arrival. We receive their details in advance from shipping agents and will refuse entry to anyone with no right to be here. We also have a fleet of cutters patrolling the Cornish coast.”

7:01am 31st March 2012

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