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Suffolk coastline ‘needs more resources’ to step up border patrols

PUBLISHED: 16:16 31 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:33 01 January 2019

Felixstowe's varied coastline.

Felixstowe's varied coastline.

Archant

Questions have been raised about Suffolk’s ability to protect its coastline against people entering illegally on boats.

The concerns come days after Suffolk police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore repeated his calls for more funding to protect East Anglia’s coastline in the wake of mounting concern over the number of people trying to enter UK.

Both the UK and France are stepping up Channel patrols in the wake of the boat landings on the south coast over the Christmas period.

However, attempts to land of the Suffolk coast remain possible.

The coastline in Suffolk is guarded by Border Force boats, along with the help of local associations.

A Suffolk businessman who runs a company on the coast said: “We’ll never be able to stop people coming into the country by boat in this day and age - not with the minimal resources that we have which are already spread thinly. “The government would need millions and millions of pounds to spend on it and even then they would not be able to stop it.

“There are too many boats around and too many places to land.

“The problem Suffolk has is that it is such a huge coastline and there are big areas that are uninhabited that people could come in undetected.

“The best defence in Suffolk is that it is far away from Europe. The south coast is only 12 or 15 miles away from France and so it’s a fairly short journey on a relatively good boat.

It is reported that around 82 people have been detained crossing the Channel since Christmas Day. Another 12 were picked up on December 28.

A spokesman from the Home Office, which controls the Border Force, said it would not comment on ongoing operations when questioned about activity on the Suffolk coastline.

Mr Passmore 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.”

A spokesman from Pakefield Coastwatch said: “We haven’t increased the number of patrols or people looking for boats.

“We are far away from Europe and so it is difficult to get here on the type of boats they are using.”

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