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Story Highlights

  • Following the success of Operation Airbridge, the joint undertaking between the Jamaican and United Kingdom (UK) Governments, to tackle drug couriers , the UK authorities is launching a similar joint programme with Ghana.
  • The programme, called Operation Westbridge, will see UK Revenue and Customs officers providing technical and operational expertise to the Ghanaian government. This will include training in the use of Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded scanning equipment.
  • During the four years of the joint UK/Jamaican initiative (Operation Airbridge), the number of drug swallowers detected at UK airports from Jamaica has been reduced from approximately 1,000 per year to 5 during the last 12 months.

Following the success of Operation Airbridge, the joint undertaking between the Jamaican and United Kingdom (UK) Governments, to tackle drug couriers , the UK authorities is launching a similar joint programme with Ghana.

The programme, called Operation Westbridge, will see UK Revenue and Customs officers providing technical and operational expertise to the Ghanaian government. This will include training in the use of Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded scanning equipment.

During the four years of the joint UK/Jamaican initiative (Operation Airbridge), the number of drug swallowers detected at UK airports from Jamaica has been reduced from approximately 1,000 per year to 5 during the last 12 months.

The Ghanaian government has requested assistance from the UK to combat drug trafficking from their region. Operation Airbridge was launched on June 1, 2002, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the British and Jamaican governments, to co-operate in tackling the number of swallowers attempting to smuggle cocaine between Jamaica and the UK.

Meanwhile, the campaign by the UK based Charity, Hibiscus, aimed at discouraging Jamaican women from becoming drug couriers, has been awarded the Longford prize. The award, which is sponsored by The Independent newspaper and named after Lord Longford, the penal and social reformer who died in 2001, recognises “outstanding qualities of humanity, courage, persistence and originality”.
Hibiscus, a Female Prisoners Welfare Project (FPWP), was originally set up to advise foreign women in British jails, but launched the public education campaign in response to the growing number of Jamaican women who ended up in British prisons on drug smuggling charges.

The charity, which was founded by Jamaican born, Olga Heaven, has been a lifeline for hundreds of foreign prisoners, including Jamaicans. Earlier this year it won two Charity awards. It was named winner of the 2006 Overall Award, for excellence in Charity management and it also received an award for its education campaign to warn Jamaican women of the consequences of drug trafficking.