Concerns the extremists are using increasingly cunning ways to get into Britain have been raised after it was revealed Border Force only has three boats patrolling the UK’s waters.
Crews entering British ports on leisure sailing and motor boats are able to disembark without being questioned, with marinas often not having an official in sight, according to concerned port workers.
Following a crackdown on illegal immigrants coming into the UK via train, lorries or ferries, it is feared ISIS jihadis could use Britain’s numerous small marinas to enter the country.
“We were sailing through the night and anybody could have gone under the radar to drop some people – which could be migrants or criminals – off on our boat from a small speed boat in the dark of night.
Dover marina is one of the many UK marinas left unmanned
Staff at Dover marina – which is separate to the Ferry port – said they do not check passports and only get involved if they know a boat is coming in from outside the European Union (EU) which is when they will contact Border Force.
“We operate 24 hours and we’re interested in security and if we were to suspect anything then we’d call the police.
“We haven’t had a situation down here yet but if a suspicious character was just running along the pontoon we’d call the police.
“Border Force do regularly come in their RIB and investigate boats in the harbour, possibly if they’ve been tipped off or they see something suspicious.”
Many of Britain’s small ports are very sleepy – which could provide an opportunity for jihadis
Sailing boats could easily bring in criminals to the UK without anybody noticing
Under the new initiative, five more patrol boats are set to be added to the force’s fleet, however a Home Affairs Select Committee this week said the number of boats patrolling Britain’s 7,000mile coastline is “worryingly low”.
Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, pointed out Italy has 600 boats for just 4,700miles of coast.
Only three out of the five current boats are being used, with one in the Mediterranean and another in dock for maintenance.
Ukip Defence spokesman Mike Hookem MEP said there was a “gaping hole in Britain’s security” because small ports were not given help.
He said: “We are an island nation with only three vessels for all our coastline and many small ports which are easily reached by a small vessel which people traffickers can easily afford.
“The situation is a shambles but the government were not expecting Brexit so they were anticipating being part of an EU wide border force and coastguard which could enter any country’s territorial waters without permission.
“I believe that is why Theresa May as Home Secretary allowed the cuts to our border force when we should be increasing their numbers.
A Home Office spokeswoman told Express.co.uk: “We are determined to take all necessary action to prevent illegal entry to the UK by any route.
“The UK works closely with domestic and international partners on an intelligence-led approach to identify attempts to smuggle people into the UK illegally.
“And our Border Force officers also use a combination of cutters, radar, on shore assets and aerial surveillance to detect and stop small craft.
“We already work with a number of agencies to help maintain coastal border security, including ports police, the National Crime Agency and the Royal Navy. However, we will not comment on speculation about further requests for support.”
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