Getting Our Christmas Frontier Priorities Right

By Leo Olivero

Earlier in the month, the Government issued a press release launching a Customs led operation named ‘Operation Comet’ aimed at collecting import duty and enforcing certain prohibitions and restrictions, particularly on fireworks. 

The official notice warned that over the weeks leading to Christmas and the New Year an increased Customs presence at the Land Frontier would ensure that proper customs clearance procedures are carried out and that adequate facilities are in place to cope with the extra volume of coaches and private vehicles coming from Spain in the build-up to Christmas.

Adding, that passenger declaration forms have been distributed to all tour operators and these should be completed prior to every coached arrival into Gibraltar, I presumed aimed at the many local coach companies who offer Christmas shopping trips to well known Spanish shopping malls.

The Press release also noted this would not be a requirement for private vehicles.

Why Not An All-Round Year Operation at the Frontier?

Operation Comet also involves the Royal Gibraltar Police FX dogs, which will also be operating at the border in a concerted attempt to enforce the prohibition of illegal imports of fireworks. The public was advised to purchase British Standard approved fireworks that have been legally imported and are available locally from licensed dealers. HM Customs aims to minimise the disruption to the public whilst maintaining efficiency in the process of collection and Law Enforcement.

Why, is it that at this time of the year we are reminded with the same pre-Christmas messages and official warnings about declaring dutiful goods at the frontier entry point?

Why also is, ‘Operation Comet’ just a Christmas Customs Operation and not just an all-round routine operational activity, this in collaboration with other agencies, including of course the police?

I absolutely agree in reminding people and members of the public about declaring dutiable goods, especially a very tough clamp down of illegal fireworks, but why only at Christmas time are we all reminded of our obligations to declare dutiable goods. Do these obligations not count during the rest of the year, or is it only during the Christmas period that the Customs, Police and others become conscious that there is some work to be done at the frontier, and I’m not talking only of fireworks but Illegal Drugs.