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© Sergey Krotov

Forwarders are being urged to be extra vigilant as criminals try to infiltrate the supply chain during the Covid-19 crisis.

UK Border Force and its partners have warned the industry it has identified trends showing criminals are exploiting the current situation, pushing fake medicines and PPE into supply chains.

The agency said criminals were “specifically targeting the vulnerable and those at most risk during the Covid-19 crisis. These goods are not fit for purpose, offering little or no protection, and will cost lives if successfully imported into the UK.”

And it is thought that every country is facing similar challenges.

Border Force noted that it was also critical, however, that legal goods get through unimpeded.

“It is imperative that essential goods can be imported expeditiously, keeping shops stocked, supporting the infrastructure of the country and allowing vital medical supplies and PPE to those in need.”

The agency wrote to UK firms: “If, during your business you have any concerns over the legitimacy of a shipment or those behind it, please let us know as soon as possible.

“This will allow us time to carry out a variety of checks which may prevent any further action being taken, thus allowing legitimate shipments free movement. However, your referral may result in the prevention of an illicit shipment making it through controls, saving lives.”

However, BIFA director general Robert Keen claimed forwarders were always diligent.

“There is usually very little they can do, apart from due diligence and checking documentation – and forwarders have always done this. Any forwarder would report a shipment they thought was wrong – it is a civic duty.

He said that normally, on reporting suspicious activity, the forwarder would never find out the outcome, but may receive a letter of thanks from Customs.

But one forwarder told The Loadstar: “We need to get this abhorrent, systematic criminal nonsense stopped.”

If you do have concerns, Border Force asks you to get in touch with the Multi Agency Hub for Containers at MAHContainers@homeoffice.gov.uk. Telephone: 01394 303118; On Call (out of normal office hours): 07920 587808.

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