Police need extra cash to protect Suffolk's vulnerable coast from smugglers
PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:34 23 August 2018
Extra funding for police is needed to fight off people smugglers targeting Suffolk's vulnerable coastline, the county's crime commissioner has said.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said the incident at Woolverstone Marina on Tuesday, where two people were arrested on board a boat, had consequences for the force.
MORE: Arrests made after two incidents involving suspected illegal immigrants
While Suffolk Constabulary is not primarily responsible for border security, Mr Passmore said frequent incidents, such as the people smuggling operation uncovered in Orford in 2014, posed challenges which reinforced the argument for more funding.
“Suffolk Constabulary and Border Force need to be sufficiently resourced to keep Suffolk safe and I’m concerned that is not being done at the moment,” he added.
“You’ve only got to look at the growing threats of terrorism to see that Suffolk is being put at risk if its coast is not properly protected.”
Mr Passmore has been campaigning for Suffolk to receive the same funding as Norfolk, bringing in an extra £3.5m a year.
“There’s no justification for Suffolk receiving less than Norfolk,” he said,
“It’s completely unreasonable and we’ve got to keep up the pressure. Suffolk Constabulary is fully stretched and if anything kicks off, like with these illegal immigrants, we don’t have the spare capacity. Successive governments treated Suffolk like some sleepy rural backwater and I’m fed up with it.”
Suffolk’s coastal communities have warned for years of their vulnerabilities to smugglers.
Aldeburgh fisherman Kirk Stribling, who once described the county as a “smuggler’s paradise” said security was worse than ever.
“We’ve lost the police patrols, the customs boats – now there’s nothing,” he said. “With no one on patrol it’s no wonder the smugglers find it so easy. How is anyone supposed to tell an illegal immigrant from a legal one? It’s not like pirates fly the Jolly Roger any more.”
Mr Stribling said there were hundreds of vessels from all over the world touring the east coast during summer. “There’s no way you can secure it,” he said.
The Home Office said it has the resources to keep the UK safe. “Significant additional funds have been allocated to Border Force this year which brings the budget to £560million,” a spokesman said.
The Home Office is seeking to recruit 1,000 extra officers and has invested £63.5m in new technology.