HM Revenue & Customs is spending £60m on a secure communications system to help in its crackdown on fraudsters and smugglers.
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has signed a 15-year deal to provide its criminal-investigation and detection teams with the Airwave digital radio system. A control room will be established and the contract will allow 4,000 handsets to connect to the Airwave network.
HMRC's law-enforcement arm investigates and detects crimes involving tax fraud, smuggling and related issues, providing the intelligence needed for the prosecution of individuals in breach of UK law with regards to tax and duties.
Airwave said HMRC officers using the network will be able to communicate securely with other users, such as police and port authorities, because voice and data traffic carried over it can be encrypted to prevent eavesdropping.
HMRC's project manager, Stephen Walton, said security was always going to be a "major factor" when it came to choosing the radio network, although a network that provided coverage across a wide area was also an important consideration.
Airwave's network covers 99 percent of Great Britain's land mass, including all major and minor roads, the company said.