https://homeofficemedia.blog.gov.uk/2019/09/04/6574/

Home Office in the media: Wednesday 4 September

Home Office in the media

Today's leading stories include firefighter numbers and Border Force's role in intercepting a record haul of heroin entering the country.

Firefighter numbers

The Today programme reports this morning on the Fire Brigades Union’s calls for more firefighters to cope with the increase in the number of wildfires.

According to the report, the Union says there has been a 19% drop in the number of firefighters in the last decade, which has not been offset by the small rise last year.

The Union is warning that the effects of the warming climate will put extra demands on fire services. Last year the number of fires reached the highest level since 2011, with 60% more wildfires.

Reflecting a statement that was provided, the programme reports that the Home Office has said that the number of fires was down a quarter over 10 years, there was more prevention work and fire services had the resources they needed.

A Home Office spokesperson said:

Over the past 10 years the total number of fire incidents in England has fallen by more than a quarter and there have been major steps forward in prevention work.

Fire and rescue services have the resources they need to do their important work and overall will receive around £2.3billion in 2019/20.

It is for each fire and rescue authority to determine the operational resources required to deliver services to local communities.

Felixstowe heroin haul

The Times, BBC Online, Guardian, Telegraph, Mail, Sky and the Today programme report on the seizure of 1.3 tonnes of heroin at Felixstowe in a joint operation with the National Crime Agency and Border Force.

The haul, with a street value of around £120 million, is the largest ever seen in the UK and had been hidden in a consignment of towels on a lorry from Antwerp.

The Mail reports that the drugs were removed clandestinely from the lorry, which was allowed to return to Belgium where NCA officers made four arrests.

Matt Horne of the NCA is quoted as saying that the haul would “deny organised crime tens of millions of pounds”.

Jenny Sharp, Border Force Assistant Director at Felixstowe, said:

This is a huge seizure – there is no other word for it given the quantities involved – which has kept dangerous drugs off the streets of the UK and mainland Europe. It speaks well of the effective work we do with our law enforcement partners at home and abroad and I’m extremely proud of all the officers involved.

The smugglers had hidden the drugs within a coverload of towels, stitching the 1kg blocks of heroin inside some of the towels. In total it took my officers nearly six hours – working in the early hours of Saturday morning - to remove the drugs and replace them with dummy packages.

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