Customs makes a hash of soap powder donation

In Kind Direct, the charity that takes unwanted surplus goods from organisations and distributes them to charities, got more than it bargained for recently when it accepted a consignment of soap powder from HM Revenue & Customs.

Hidden among the boxes of washing powder, which it passed on to 102 charities, were two blocks of cannabis resin overlooked by HMRC officials.

After one recipient charity contacted In Kind Direct to report finding the extra gift, its chief executive, Robin Boles, wrote to the other 101 organisations explaining what had happened and offering to collect any unused powder. Shortly afterwards, another client charity got in touch, saying it had found a similar package.

Lindsay Swan, head of communications and PR at In Kind Direct, said HMRC had confiscated some drugs from the consignment before handing it to the charity, but had failed to detect all of the contraband.

"After we told them what had happened, they were very good about it, and offered to come and collect all the powder," she said. Overall, ten charities requested that their unused powder be collected.

Swan added that it was the first time since the charity began operating in 1997 that it had "encountered a problem with a donation of goods". The organisation, one of Prince Charles's charities, has increased the amount of goods distributed by 50 per cent in the past year.

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