09 November 2011

Australian immigration and customs hotline launched

The Australian Government has unveiled a telephone hotline to which members of the community can report suspicious customs or immigration activity.

Australia visa application

The Australian Government has launched a 'Customs Watch' hotline for reporting of suspicious customs and border activity.

Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor yesterday launched an Australian Government initiative to involve the general public in preventing Australian immigration, customs and border crime.

The 'Customs Watch' telephone hotline will serve as a port of call for members of the community and border protection industry to report suspicious activity related to immigration and customs.

In a ministerial statement released yesterday, Mr O'Connor said the hotline would be easily accessible to all Australians and will help to secure the country's border.

"The Customs Watch number - 1800 06 1800 - is answered by experienced Customs and Border Protection officers 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.
No matter what time it is, your information could be the key to the seizure of drugs, weapons or other prohibited imports.

"You do not have to leave your name, as Customs and Border Protection can take information anonymously."

In particular, Mr O'Connor said his department is on the lookout for instances of people smuggling, drug or prohibited substance importation, counterfeit documents manufacture including false Australia visa activity, terrorism or other overt criminal behaviour and the import of dangerous and illegal weapons.

The hotline is not intended to substitute the role of border protection agencies, but rather, assist customs and immigration officials in their crime detection and prevention work.

"Customs and Border Protection officers do a fantastic job at our ports, airports, mail centres and patrolling Australia’s vast coastline, but they can’t be everywhere," Mr O’Connor said.

"Industry and community members have an important role to play in preventing criminal activity at the border.

"By building strong partnerships with industry and the community, Customs and Border Protection is better equipped to deter criminal behaviour, identify vulnerabilities at the border and prevent them from hurting Australia’s national interests."

The initiative will further the collaboration between community and border agencies already in existence, O'Connor said.

"Information from industry and the public has led to the detection of hundreds of kilograms of illicit drugs and precursors, illegal weapons and other prohibited items that endanger community safety.

"During 2010/11 the work of Customs and Border Protection officers resulted in almost 5,000 illicit drug or precursor seizures weighing over 4.7 tonnes. Already this financial year we have seized in excess of a tonne of illicit drugs and precursors.

"Now with one direct number to call we are making it easier for industry and members of the public to provide information about suspicious activities to Customs and Border Protection."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people emigrate to Australia and lodge applications with the Australian High Commission.

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