There is a special unit embodied under Projects and Technical Systems Department specifically responsible for carrying out R&D and project management tasks. The international practices in combatting illicit trafficking and smuggling are considered as of high importance by the Ministry of Customs and Trade. Therefore, recent developments in customs detection and control technologies and practices of WCO and EU member states are examined closely by a project team composed of professional customs and trade experts who are experienced in R&D and project management.
Projects conducted by this unit will be financed via national budget, the EU Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) Program or bilateral cooperation with other customs administrations. Projects financed via national budget are mostly the supply projects through which technical equipment used for border checks are provided. On the other hand, IPA projects could be both supply and twinning projects. While supply projects play a key role in improving the technical capacity of DG Customs Enforcement, twinning projects constitute a platform whereby the administrative and operational capacity of the DG is enhanced via exchange of know-how and experience with an EU member state or a consortium of member states in customs enforcement activities.
GUMSIS (BCPs Security Systems) Project:
As it is known, a fundamental responsibility of the Ministry of Customs and Trade is to facilitate international trade in conformity with customs rules and formalities. Nevertheless, the prevention of smuggling activities is as important as the former. Thus, the Ministry of Customs and Trade of Turkey attributes utmost importance to modernizing border crossing points with high technology equipment.
Modernization process was fostered with a Protocol signed with TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) in 2001 for improving the technical capacity of BCPs in combating illicit trade, with a specific emphasis on prevention of drug smuggling. The project consists of different sub-components:
Command and Control Centre
Close Circuit Television Systems (CCTV)
Cryptographic Communication System (WAN Security)
Vehicle and Container Scanning Systems
Vehicle Tracking System
Plate Recognition System
Integration of the Systems
Command and Control Centre:
Security systems founded in regional and provincial customs directorates are open to simultaneous monitoring of Command and Control Centre located in an 225m2 area at the Headquarters. The Centre operates on a 7/24 basis. Currently, five systems may be supervised from this Centre:
AHotline (ALO 136) Call Center is also located at the Command and Control Centre.
Close Circuit Television System:
In order to ensure stability and public order as well as to detect any kind of criminal activity within the customs control area and intervene immediately (when necessary), CCTV systems composed of fixed and mobile cameras are installed at the border crossing points. Through the CCTV system, all customs control areas may be monitored locally from “CCTV Monitoring Centers” and from the Command and Control Centre in Ankara.
Vehicle and Container Scanning Systems:
Given the international trade volume in Turkey , it is impossible to apply manual control over all goods coming into Turkish border crossing points. Thus, vehicle and container scanning systems are made use of in conducting customs controls.
Vehicle and Container Scanning Systems used by Turkish Customs are relocatable, mobile and ZBV Backscatter scanning systems. Besides, a railroad cargo inspection system was launched in Kapikoy BCP, which constitutes a border between Turkey and Iran. At the first instance, three scanning systems were provided in 2003 by the World Bank loans and launched at Kapikule and Ipsala BCPs, and Ambarli Port. Year by year, scanning system capacity hasimproved. Currently, there are 38 scanning systems used at land, sea and railroad BCPs.
Vehicle Tracking System:
Transit vehicles, considered as “suspected” or “high risk” on the basis of risk analysis are monitored until they leave the country via Vehicle Tracking Systems (VTS). The vehicle is monitored through a mobile system mounted on it, and the signals received from that unit are monitored by the relevant regional or provincial customs units, and the Command and Control Centre. In any case of a suspicion, mobile customs enforcement teams stop the vehicle and investigate to detect whether the vehicle was involved in illicit trafficking or smuggling.
First, 500 mobile units were provided by the GÜMSİS Project. VTS software and additional units were further bought by 2006 IPA project. Eventually, mobile unit capacity has improved considerably in subsequent years.
Plate Recognition System:
Plate Recognition System (PRS) allows record plates of vehicles which leaves the country/enters from land border gates. After taking Ministerial Approval of PRS, technical specifications and necessary documents were prepared. In the forthcoming days, PRS will be establish and come into operation.
Since the programming year of 2003, R&D and Projects Unit has been implementing IPA projects with fruitful results. Project management itself and especially projects financed via IPA program of the EU require a separate expertise because the preparation, implementation and supervision of these projects are subject to a special procedure determined by the EU Commission. Besides, it necessitates a high level of cooperation among the institutions in charge of the implementation process of the projects.
With the new financial framework for the period 2014–2020, DG Customs Enforcement projects are evaluated under the section of ‘Home Affairs’ . Hence, as the “Main Beneficiary”, DG Customs Enforcement works in close cooperation with the Ministry of Interior as the “Sector Coordinator” institution. Besides, project documents are supervised by the EU Delegation in Turkey, the Ministry of EU Affairs of Turkey and the Central Finance and Contracts Units (CFCU) in terms of their relevance with the EU priorities before being submitted to the EU Commission.
Since the programming year of 2003, the enforcement projects have had supply, service, works and twinning components.
Supply projects helped the purchase of customs control and detection equipment such as vehicle and container scanning systems, patrol boats, patrol vehicles and other technical equipment.
Twinning projects are implemented for harmonization of the national legislative and operational procedures with the EU acquis. The first twinning project was carried out with a consortium of Great Britain and Germany on Maritime Operations. Composed of three main parts, (i.e. Strategy, Structure and Training) the project aimed at improving the maritime surveillance capacity and operational procedures of the Ministry of Customs and Trade of Turkey. As a result of the project, a Maritime Control Strategy Paper and Action Plan, a document laying down the basic principles of port operations, vessel search, patrolling and occupational health and safety of the customs personnel, was prepared. Within the scope of the project, 108 personnel were trained as trainers and trainees on rummaging, patrolling, container control and occupational safety. At the end of the related trainings, 10 patrol teams and 4 rummage teams are formed. The outcomes of this project will be further improved with Maritime Operations-II Project, which are to be implemented under the programming year of 2013.
Detailed information on the IPA projects implemented since 2003 is presented in the table below. In the programming year of 2014, a comprehensive project on airport operations has been approved by EU Commission. Preparation of project documents for programming years of 2015 and 2016 is still ongoing.
||Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration-I
-20 IP crypto network security equipment
-24 cryptographic key
||Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration-II
||-5 relocatable vehicle and container scanning systems
-Building of search sheds with cold storage facilities in Mersin and Alsancak seaports
-Technical equipment for sheds
-Establishment of risk analysis unit
||Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration-III
||-Vehicle Tracking System (VTS) software
-1250 mobile VTS units
-14 vehicles for “mobile customs enforcement units” and technical control equipment used by mobile units (drugs and explosive trace detectors, density measurement devices, videoscopes, laptops)
||Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration-V
||-Railroad cargo inspection system
-Data Management System
-Baggage scanning system
-4x4 land vehicle
||Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration-VI
||-10 patrol boats
-5 mobile vehicle and container scanning systems
-25 patrol vehicles
-Twinning on Maritime Operations
||Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration-VIII
|15 mobile baggage scanning systems
||Improving the Maritime Surveillance Capacity and Operational Procedures of Turkish Customs Administration
||-5 small patrol vehicles
-4 pick-up vehicles
-4 small patrol boats
|* In supply projects, while EU is financing 75% to 85% of the project budget, the remaining budget is co-financed by Turkish National Budget. In twinning projects, the EU contribution is around 95% to 100% of the project budget.
On the behalf of enchancing the efficiency of fighting against smuggling, Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) Programmings which carry out by EU, continues as part of modernization in customs.
- Within the scope of 2003 IPA Programming, as part of ‘Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration Project’ Plate Reading System was established in Dilucu, Hamzabeyli, Öncüpınar Border Gates and CCTVs established in the Ports of Mersin, Samsun, Haydarpaşa, Çeşme and Dilucu, Öncüpınar, Esendere, Hamzabeyli, Dereköy Border Gates. Final Acceptance of Project was completed.
- Within the scope of 2004 IPA Programming, as part of ‘Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration Project II’ vehicle and container scanning sytems were established Ports of Mersin, Ambarlı, Samsun, İzmir/Alsancak and Gürbulak Border Gate. Also, service procurement carried out and Final Acceptance of Project was completed.
- Within the scope of 2006 IPA Programming, as part of ‘Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration Project III’; 1250 Vehicle Tracking System, software of Vehicle Tracking System, 14 Mobile Unit Vehicle, Videoscope, Mobile Tracking System, Laptop, Narcotic and Explosive Trace Detector were purchased.
- Within the scope of ‘Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration Project-V’ Train Scanning System in the Van Kapıköy Railway Customs Gate and ‘Data Management System’ were established.
- Within the scope of ‘Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration Project-VI’ 10 patrol boats, 5 vehicle and container scanning system and 25 patrol car were procured.
- Within the scope of 2012 IPA Programming, as part of ‘Modernization of Turkish Customs Administration Project-VI’ 18 Mobil Baggage Scanning System were purchased. Systems came into operation.
- Within the scope of 2013 IPA Programming, with the Project of ‘Improving the Maritime Customs Surveillance Capacity and Operational Procedures of Ministry of Customs and Trade-DG Customs Enforcement’ supply of 3 patrol boats and 8 patrol vehicles were planned. As part of Twinning, by consortium of Spanish-French; advanced vessel research, patrolling, search and rescue, communication, intelligence trainings will be given.
- Within the scope of 2014 IPA Programming, with the Project of ‘Improving Customs Enforcement Capacity’ passenger and cargo control equipments will be provided. As part of Twinning, with regard of passenger and cargo controls, airport crimes, aircraft search and dog trainings will be given. As a pilot area, Atatürk, Esenboğa and Antalya Airports was determined.
- Within the scope of 2015 IPA Programming, with the Project of ‘Improving Detection Capacity of Customs Enforcement’, 5 Backscatter Systems will be supplied. As part of Service component, ‘Intelligence and Targeting Software’, ‘Data Mining Software’ and ‘Geographical Based Anti-Smuggling Data Bank’ will be procured. Also as part of Twinning component, improving technical and operational capacity in container controls, enhancing command function of Command Control Centre and improve efficiency of databases and programmes which is used by our Administration in the field of fighting against Smuggling
VESSEL TRACKING PROGRAM
Currently, together with growing international trade volume, illicit trade as well as smuggling activities have increased in number, constituting a major threat to public health, environment, national security and economic performance of the country.
The cutting-edge developments particularly in communication and generally in technology have paved the way for the emergence of new types and methods in smuggling. Therefore, it is inevitable for all customs administrations in the world to revise and update the methods used for combatting increasing illicit trade.
In line with the aforementioned goal, the Ministry of Customs and Trade of Turkey initiated the Vessel Tracking Program (VTP) in order to combat smuggling attempts at seas. The program is online and may be accessible by all customs enforcement units at seaports.
The main goals of the VTP are;
Strengthening maritime surveillance and detection capacity
Preventing maritime smuggling
Combatting maritime smuggling more efficiently
Facilitating legal trade
In line with the main goals mentioned above, the program has been designed with the following specific objectives:
Supervision of all the vessels arriving at Turkish seaports or departing from Turkish seaports
Electronic recording of the arrival/departure declarations and other related control documents of the vessels
Conducting the control procedures of the vessels through the Program
Generating a database for monitoring the movements of the vessels
The representatives of the shipping agencies and the companies may access the program and the user manual via the website “https://www.gtb.gov.tr/kategori/478/uygulamalar.html”. Arrival and departure declarations of the vessels arriving at and departing from Turkish seaports are electronically received via the Program. Documents obtained during the vessel controls by the customs enforcement officers are recorded into the program, and the follow-up controls are accordingly undertaken online by the customs officers.
The Vessel Tracking Program is continuously improved in line with newly emerging needs and pre-determined goals of the Ministry.
ENHANCING CAPACITY OF TECHNICAL SYSTEMS AND DEVICES:
In the behalf of improving efficiency of struggle against all manner of Smuggling, our Administration uses variety of technical systems and devices in the customs area. According to new technological advancement, Administration keep up new technologies continuously and carry out necessary and needed work.