11 AUG 2016

A New Dover Patrol will beef up our border security

Security in the English Channel is not strong enough and needs to improve. There is a rising threat from people-trafficking by yachts and small boats. Meanwhile there are concerns that cross Channel transport should have increased protection to counter the rising terrorist threat.

There is no doubt that the cross Channel people-trafficking situation is becoming increasingly serious. Just last week, five Iranians were trafficked to Winchelsea in Sussex. Last year a man was running a people trafficking operation from France to Kingsdown near Deal. It's increasingly clear that the case of the traffickers caught red handed transporting Albanians to Dymchurch is just the tip of a very large iceberg.

The National Crime Agency is warning of a growing small craft people-trafficking problem and has discovered an extensive people-trafficking trade being run via 200 social media sites. Last week the Home Affairs Select Committee reported that the increased security at the main Channel Ports has caused trafficking gangs to seek out alternative trafficking routes. Border Force's ability to counter this problem has been condemned in a damning report by their independent inspector. But then it's hard to protect the UK coastline when you have just three ships. We need urgently to beef up our defences.

A century ago the Dover Patrol kept the White Cliffs of Dover and the English Channel safe in time of war. Now we need to declare war on the cross Channel people traffickers with a New Dover Patrol. We need more ships on patrol in the English Channel. The Government should recall Royal Naval units patrolling the borders of Mediterranean nations - who have more border control vessels than we do - to keep the English Channel safe and secure.

France takes the threat of attacks on ferries and cross Channel shipping very seriously. So should we. It is now urgent for the Government to review its threat assessment and consider joining France in having armed guards accompany ferries – as well as review security arrangements in the Channel Tunnel.

Dover & Deal has a long and proud history of association with the Royal Marines. The New Dover Patrol should be led by the Marines as they have great expertise in countering people-trafficking and attacks on shipping around the World. The Marines have the unique set of skills required to do this job and we now need to see their skills deployed at home.

The strengthening of security between Dover and Calais has led to a rise in people-trafficking by small craft. We must now take control and stop the people-traffickers. We cannot be complacent about the threat from ISIL/Daesh and terrorism. We should join France in having armed guards accompany ferries as well as ensure the Channel Tunnel is as secure as we can make it. Finally we need to increase the Budget for Border Force and celebrate the incredible work our border officers do in working so hard to keep us all safe and secure.


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Charlie Elphicke

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