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Customs enlists more canine help

Customs enlists more canine help to assist with trade security

The New Zealand Customs Service will train three explosive-detector dogs as one of a number of moves to increase assurances about the security of trade.

Speaking at a function today in Wellington marking International Customs Day, Customs Minister Rick Barker said that all responsible nations now sought to provide extra assurance about the security of trade and travel, in response to international terrorist threats.

“New Zealand is working closely with other government agencies and businesses, locally and internationally, to meet increased security expectations.”

Mr Barker said detector dogs were a successful and effective way of screening large numbers of people or cargo quickly for specific substances, as already well demonstrated by Customs existing team of drug detector dogs and handlers.

“Detector dogs are internationally considered one of the most effective methods of detecting explosives and I am sure their training and deployment in this country will continue that tradition.”

In New Zealand, the Aviation Security Service and the Police already operate explosive-detector dogs. However their dogs were unavailable for regular screening of the large quantities of cargo which arrived in New Zealand by sea each week.

The New Zealand Customs Service explosive-detector dogs will be used to screen cargo being loaded on or off ships at various New Zealand sea ports.

Three dogs and handlers will start training shortly, and will be on the job in the second half of the year.

Mr Barker said that in order to meet new international trade security expectations, the focus must be on securing the whole supply chain – from the exporter’s premises through the ports to the shipping companies, for both air and sea freight.

Mr Barker said the New Zealand Customs Service was working with other government agencies and the business sector to develop a security assurance regime.

“We need to assure our trading partners about the security of New Zealand export products, and meet information-sharing requirements, to maintain our reputation as a low-risk trading partner.”

Mr Barker said he was looking forward to the constructive involvement of the business sector in establishing a practical, workable system.

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