New powers contained in the Immigration Act 2016 have come into force this week which will give further powers to Border Force officers in the fight against illegal immigration into the UK.
These new powers will allow officers to stop, board, divert and detain vessels and arrest anyone they suspect has broken immigration law. Previously Border Force officials had to wait for a boat to dock in the UK before they could board a vessel. The Home Secretary has confirmed that in addition to these powers, there will be a new fleet of patrol boats and three permanent command centres in Cornwall, the Thames Estuary and the Humber.
Whilst much has been done to strengthen security at the larger ports, including £14.8 million invested at Calais since 2010, it is clear that a large number of migrants are intent on making the dangerous journey to the UK.
There have been concerning reports over the weekend of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats, such as the one arriving at Dymchurch. It is essential that our Border Force have the resources to be able to patrol our coasts effectively and that our own laws and policies are able to adapt to the new ways that entry is attempted. We must do all we can to ensure that lives are not lost at the hands of people smugglers, as we have seen elsewhere in Europe.
I believe that we will have greater control of our borders if we leave the EU but, whatever the decision of the British people on June 23rd, it is likely that illegal attempts to enter the UK will continue. This country has a proud tradition of providing safety and security to those most in need but it is essential that we do all we can to prevent illegal entry to the UK.