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ESR and NZ Customs collaborate on border control

December 16,  2008

ESR and New Zealand Customs collaborate on border control

Crown Research Institute ESR and New Zealand Customs Service are increasing co-operation to enhance strategic and operational capabilities to control who and what crosses our borders.

ESR CEO Dr John Hay said establishing a more formal relationship with Customs would enable ESR to provide comprehensive scientific advice and support on border issues affecting human health specific to illicit drugs, counterfeit medicines and other compounds and chemicals that may be used in the production of illicit drugs.

“Consolidating our two agencies working relationship will extend our ability to provide comprehensive science to the government agencies responsible for health and security at the border.

“ESR provides scientific services and advice to support the operations and policy to a number of government agencies involved in security and safety issues; including the Police, Ministry of Health and New Zealand Food Safety Authority. We also work closely with MAF Biosecurity in regard to human biosecurity issues.

“This means we have unique scientific expertise, knowledge and information that can support border security and control,” he said. Customs and other border sector agencies aim to improve coordination and collaboration between them to enhance the efficiencies and effectiveness in border management. 

Martyn Dunne, Comptroller of Customs said fostering inter-agency collaboration and effectiveness at the border had resulted in the development of a ‘shared focus at the border’ concept.

“It was timely to formalise the relationship with ESR who can provide   scientific advice and services underpinning the ‘shared focus concept’, particularly as ESR also works with a number of other government agencies who have an interest in border matters.”

ESR and New Zealand Customs already work together on the identification of controlled drugs and prohibited goods entering New Zealand. International drug abuse trends increasingly involve synthetic substances and counterfeit medicines. This requires government agencies to be able to correctly and proactively work together to identify at the border controlled substances and materials used to manufacture drugs.

“ESR’s expertise in illicit drugs, toxicology, pharmaceuticals and forensic chemistry plays a vital role in this”, Mr Dunne said.

To facilitate this ESR and Customs are establishing a formal process to access and share information, to investigate new technologies and develop research that assists with border security.

About ESR

ESR (www.esr.cri.nz) is a Crown Research Institute which provides critical  scientific services to government  which ensure that the agencies working in the justice,  public health and biosecurity sectors are able to achieve their individual and shared outcomes efficiently and effectively.

ESR provides 

operational scientific services to the government’s public health, food safety, biosecurity, police and criminal justice functions;
scientific advice on these issues to government agencies;
critical mass of science capability, scientific infrastructure and nationally important databases essential in underpinning government responsibilities in the above areas.
coordination, assistance and support of government response to public health emergencies (biological threats, including infectious disease) and other chemical, biological, radiological or explosive (CBRE) aberrant events; and
research capability that underpins and innovates services to government clients and creates new knowledge that benefits New Zealand.
ESR media contact:


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