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Heathrow travellers 'let off' over rules on duty-free

By Hayden Smith

Published 09/09/2016

Border Force staff at Heathrow felt a zero-tolerance approach to customs rules could 'alienate members of the travelling public, leading to more confrontations'
Border Force staff at Heathrow felt a zero-tolerance approach to customs rules could 'alienate members of the travelling public, leading to more confrontations'

Passengers arriving at Britain's busiest airport are being let off over customs rules on duty-free allowances for cigarettes and alcohol, a watchdog report has indicated.

Officers who discover people arriving from outside the European Union with undeclared goods in excess of limits should seize the items.

But Border Force staff at Heathrow felt a zero-tolerance approach could "alienate members of the travelling public, leading to more confrontations", according to a report from the independent chief inspector of Borders and Immigration.

An inspection team observing the green "nothing to declare" channel for those arriving from outside the EU witnessed discretion exercised in two cases.

In one the passenger was marginally over the alcohol limit and was allowed to proceed.

In the other instance two women were found to be carrying excess cigarettes and tobacco. "One of them was elderly, and they were allowed to move into the red channel and pay the excess duty," the report said.

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