'Vigilant' ship builder's model

Customs cutters

model of a modern customs patrol ship

In 2003 HM Customs & Excise took delivery of the new cutter patrol vessel - 'Vigilant'. She was built at the Damen Shipyard in the Netherlands.

The 'Vigilant' can travel at a speed of over 26 knots. It can turn within its own length, and has the latest in surveillance, navigation and communications equipment.

In an attempt to stay one step ahead of the criminals, customs have always tried to use the most up to date technology and intelligence. Cutters must therefore be fast and manoeuvrable.

There has always been smuggling around our coast, but the nature of the products has changed over time. In the 18th and 19th centuries illegal tobacco, spirits and tea were smuggled. Whilst tobacco and alcohol are still smuggled across our borders, imports of illegal drugs are now a problem. Customs cutters play a vital role in protecting our borders against these activities.

In 2001/02 nine tons of class A drugs were seized. Over 100 gangs involved in drug smuggling were dismantled. Nearly £9 million pounds worth of drug related assets were recovered.

Model maker - Scale Models, Weston.

Accession number CEM2005/22