TaxPersonal Tax10 FEBRUARY 2000 CUSTOMS AND EXCISE HELP TRAVELLERS AT THE DESTINATIONS TRAVEL SHOW OPENING IN OLYMPIA, LONDON TODAY.

10 FEBRUARY 2000 CUSTOMS AND EXCISE HELP TRAVELLERS AT THE DESTINATIONS TRAVEL SHOW OPENING IN OLYMPIA, LONDON TODAY.

Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo today warned travellers it was not worth the risk of being caught with illegal drugs while abroad.

DON’T MESS WITH DRUGS – YOUR HOLIDAY MAY END IN JAIL

Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo today warned travellers it was not worth the risk of being caught with illegal drugs while abroad.

“There are 1,200 British citizens detained on drug charges in foreign jails all over the world. These people would not have imagined that they would end up in jail, far from their friends and family and loved ones – they were simply on holiday and then it all went wrong.

“They may be detained in countries where they do not understand the language or the culture. They will certainly be mixing with unscrupulous and hardened criminals and may have to struggle to survive. In some countries trafficking or even possession of class A drugs carries the maximum sentence of the death penalty.

“It isn’t worth smuggling drugs back into this country either. The Courts regularly hand down stiff sentences for couriers, particularly those smuggling Class A drugs such as heroin and cocaine, because of the social devastation and misery these drugs can cause.

“Don’t get mixed up in drugs. Make sure you pack your luggage yourself and never agree to bring back packages for anyone else, it’s just not worth the risk.’

Foreign and Commonwealth Minister John Battle said:

“British Consuls give all the help they possibly can to any British national who faces criminal charges. But we cannot get prisoners released who are convicted on drug charges – the law of the land where the offence has occurred must be upheld. It simply isn’t worth using, buying, selling or smuggling drugs abroad.”

Notes to Editors

Currently there are 2,680 British nationals who are prisoners in foreign jails. Almost half – 1,196 of these – are detained on drug charges.

The maximum sentence in the UK for smuggling class A drugs is life imprisonment, for class B drugs it is 14 years.

In 1998 Customs seized drugs with a total street value of #710 million, and arrested 3,099 people involved in drug smuggling.

Customs and Excise operate a 24 hour confidential freephone – 0800 59 5000 – please ring 0800 59 5000 if you have any information however small that may help us combat drug smuggling.

For further information travellers should consult our short leaflet, “A Guide For Travellers” available from Customs and Excise advice centres listed under Customs and Excise in the telephone book, or from our website http://www.hmce.gov.uk

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