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Passmore renews coastal warning as Home Office steps up border security

PUBLISHED: 05:30 31 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:12 31 December 2018

Police and Border Force officials were called to Orford Quay when a yacht was found with illegal immigrants on board in 2017. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Police and Border Force officials were called to Orford Quay when a yacht was found with illegal immigrants on board in 2017. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Andrew Whinney

As concern mounts about the number of illegal immigrants turning up on beaches in the south east of England, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has repeated his call for more investment to protect Britain’s coastline.

Tim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNTim Passmore, police and crime commissioner for Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has flown home from a family holiday in South Africa after growing concern about the number of illegal immigrants found on the Kent coast – more than 200 have been picked up by UK border staff since the start of November.

A further six, believed to be Iranian, were found with a small boat near Deal on Sunday morning.

Mr Passmore has called regularly for more security around the British coastline – especially along the East Anglian coast as well as in the south east.

Over the last few years there have been several incidents where people-smugglers have used small Suffolk jetties to bring in illegal immigrants.

He said: “I do think this issue has to be taken far more seriously all the time by the Home Office. There just isn’t enough effort put into securing our borders.”

The situation was different on the south coast in comparison with the incidents in Suffolk. In the Dover area illegal immigrants had been found with small boats, some just small inflatables, which either carried them the 22 miles from the French coast or were launched from slightly larger craft a mile or so from the British coast. They are then expected to fend for themselves.

In Suffolk most illegal immigrants are believed to have been brought to small jetties by yachts or ocean-going cabin cruisers where they are handed over to gangs who are expecting them and are planning to use them as modern slaves.

Mr Passmore said he would like to have a more structured volunteer network looking out for suspicious activity at isolated jetties – and a faster reaction from Border Force staff.

He said: “There are, I think, 31 small jetties on or near the Suffolk coast. We need local people to keep an eye on what is happening there – and for the Home Office to have the staff to move when they’re needed.”

Mr Passmore said the police were already very stretched financially – and the government needed to recognise they needed support if they were to help keep the country’s borders secure.

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