Summit to halt rare-species smuggling

A "NEIGHBOURHOOD watch" war on illegal trade in rare species and dangerous chemicals was unveiled by the Government yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said he wants everyone to become an "environmental detective", after the success of local schemes encouraging householders to look out for signs of crime in their street.

The plan, unveiled at the end of a weekend G8 summit of the world's most powerful countries, at Leeds Castle in Kent, signals the need for more public awareness about racketeering worth about pounds 20bn.

Tiger skins, bones used for Chinese medicine, rhino horn, elephant tusks and scores of other products from species under threat of extinction are smuggled into Britain - although huge strides in curbing the trade have been made by Customs officers in recent years.

"Lots of these products are sold in little shops," Mr Prescott told an end-of-summit news conference. He also urged tourists to be careful what they buy on holiday abroad, adding: "Sometimes people buy things in all innocence. It's just a matter of creating more awareness."

Environment Minister Michael Meacher said environmental crime was "big business". Live snakes had been discovered stuffed with cocaine and turtles with marijuana. With evidence of Mafia involvement, there is a need for better-trained enforcement officers.

"One of the problems is that many different agencies are involved, and it's easy at the moment for criminals to slip through the net," said Mr Meacher. Climate change, the oceans and job creation as new green technologies come on stream were also debated by ministers from Britain, the US, Canada, Russia, Japan, Italy, France and Germany.

Their recommendations will be put to a conference of G8 heads of government at Birmingham next month.

The final communique said it was acknowledged that climate change "remains the greatest global environmental threat to the world's sustainable development, public health and future prosperity".

It was essential to translate into reality the pledges to curb greenhouses gases, made at Kyoto last year.

Mr Prescott said global warming targets had been agreed and it was vital not to "unroll the ball of wool" by reopening the debate.

Agreement had been reached on an 8 per cent cutback by 2010 in carbon dioxide emissions and Britain would continue to try an achieve a 20 per cent reduction.

The ministers at the summit agreed to:

r Boost international efforts to train officials on the same lines as Interpol's work to develop a training programme;

r Aim to hold a national public-awareness event in each G8 country in the next year, to increase knowledge about the extent of the problem, the threat it poses and how to help fight it;

r Step up the battle against smuggling in ozone-depleting substances, hazardous waste and protected species through strict enforcement of international agreements.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory