While contemplating next year’s challenges and opportunities, I suppose it’s not a bad time to reflect on the WCO‘s theme for Customs Inc. in 2013. The Secretary General of the WCO, Kunio Mikuriya, is pleased to announce that 2013 will be dedicated to promoting innovation under the slogan “Innovation for Customs progress”. He believes that WCO Members and their partners will have the opportunity to promote innovative ideas and practices that they have implemented, new partnerships that they have developed, as well as creative solutions and technologies that they have adopted. Customs and its stakeholders are urged to be innovative and creative in taking forward the innovation theme in all its facets throughout 2013.
The Year of innovation will be launched on International Customs Day, celebrated annually by the global Customs community on 26 January in honour of the inaugural session of the Customs Co-operation Council (CCC) which took place on 26 January 1953.
Considering the age of the WCO (CCC), I thought the pictures below might conjure up some yesteryear profiles of male and female customs officers. These come from a book A Ladybird ‘Easy-Reading’ Book – ‘People at Work’ – The CUSTOMS OFFICER, which was around when I was a youngster in primary school. Needless to say, the content is perhaps meaningless where the period ‘gate-keeper’ approach to customs control has since been superseded by ‘automated risk management’, i.e. where a computer tells a customs officer what to search for, or what is suspicious or worthwhile expending energy on. Passenger processing has likewise seen a revolution in technology aids and controlled procedures. In many places it is the biometric reader which ‘facilitates’ expedited passenger/traveller processing. While verbal interrogation is still used it is merely a ‘level’ in the ‘layered’ approach in the modern customs risk management process. X-ray body scanners and drug-loo’s complete the customs officer’s enforcement toolkit. Yet, it still takes the ingenuity of a customs officer (and many instances his detector dog) to raise the ‘portcullis’ on crime.
- WCO News – October 2012 Edition (mpoverello.com)