Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Department of Justice, Equality and Defence
Illicit Trade in Tobacco
The illicit tobacco trade has been examined and acknowledged as a serious crime in the course of the White Paper on Crime process.
As the Deputy will appreciate, however, there are of course already measures in place to combat this form of criminality and tackling the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products continues to be a priority for the Government and law enforcement agencies.
In targeting those engaged in this form of criminality, An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners work in close co-operation.
The Revenue Commissioners, who have a primary role in the overall response to this illicit trade, carry out interception at the point of importation through a combination of risk analysis, profiling, intelligence, and the screening of cargo, vehicles, baggage and postal packages. In addition, Revenue enforcement officers at the post-importation stage carry out intelligence-based operations and random checks at retail outlets, markets and private and commercial premises. Revenue also carries out regular multi-agency operations, particularly in relation to large maritime importations and in checks at inland markets. An Garda Síochána support the Revenue Commissioners in carrying out this work and regularly undertake searches as part of intelligence-led operations led by Revenue.
Furthermore, An Garda Síochána target those involved in the illicit trade in cigarettes and tobacco products through a focus on tackling serious and organised criminal activity. The Policing Plan 2011 sets out the commitment of An Garda Síochána to pro-actively target groups and individuals engaged in organised criminal activities. Gardaí target serious criminals and organised criminal groups on a number of fronts, including through the use of focused intelligence-led operations by specialist units. In addition, multi-disciplinary approaches are applied to ensure the activities of individuals and groups involved in criminal enterprise, including those involved in the importation, sale and distribution of illegal cigarettes, are effectively targeted, including through the use of the proceeds of crime legislation, money-laundering legislation and the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
I am pleased to say that I intend to publish the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions) Bill in the autumn. The Bill, which will build on the recommendations in the 2007 Law Reform Commission Report on Spent Convictions, will provide for the non-disclosure of certain convictions when a person is seeking employment, once certain conditions have been met. These conditions will relate mainly to the nature of the offence, the length of time since the person was convicted and the type of employment they are seeking. Certain convictions, including convictions for sexual offences will be excluded from the benefits of the Bill, while anyone wishing to work with children or vulnerable adults will have to disclose their previous convictions.