The Home Affairs Select Committee claim the Border Force has a “worryingly low” number of ships to patrol 7,000 miles of shoreline.
The UK’s Border Force has been responsible for frontline policing of the borders since 2008 and has a fleet of five vessels. However, with one ship currently patrolling in the Mediterranean and another in dock for maintenance there are only three ships available for duty in UK waters.
The Select Committee report described the UK Border Force as being “clearly under-resourced”.
An additional 8 ships have been ordered to bolster the current fleet, but these are not expected to fully enter service until 2017 at the earliest.
The Telegraph have also reported that the French Government is in talks with the UK about introducing armed “sea marshals” on passenger ferries crossing the Channel.
“Terrorists do not see borders as barriers to their barbarism.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live the chairman of the committee, Labour MP Keith Vaz, said:
“The government has done the right thing in ordering more vessels but this should have been done much earlier and criminal gangs are not going to wait until order books have been fulfilled.
“They are making huge amounts of money and they are the ones we are going to be targeting – we need to ruthlessly deal with them.”
Former Head of the Royal Navy, Lord West of Spithead, claimed that outside of major ports, the UK was “highly vulnerable”.
|Country||Coastline||Number of Vessels|
|UK (Border Force)||7,723mi||3|
|Italy (Guardia di Finanza)||4,722mi||600|
|Turkey (Coast Guard Command)||4,473mi||107|
|Spain (Guardia Civil)||3,085mi||147|
|Greece (Hellenic Coast Guard)||8,497mi||240|
|Croatia (Croatian Coast Guard)||3,625mi||9|
|Netherlands (Nederlandse Kustwacht)||280mi||16|
Source: UK Border Force
When asked to comment on the allegations in the report, a Home Office spokeswoman said:
“We continue to work tirelessly to maintain the security of our border, intercepting attempts to enter the UK illegally and targeting the callous gangs that profit from people smuggling.”
The report suggested deploying Royal Navy vessels to the Channel as an interim measure to deter people traffickers.