Ferries in the English Channel should have armed guards on board to protect them from terrorists and people smugglers, a British MP has suggested.
Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover, also called for British naval vessels patrolling the Mediterranean to be recalled in order to increase security closer to home.
In a report sent to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, Mr Elphicke called for the Coast Guard, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Border Force to work together to patrol the sea around Dover – one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
At the moment, Britain has just three vessels patrolling over 7,000 miles of coast, whereas Italy has 600. Even crisis-hit Greece has over 200.
The Daily Mail quotes Mr Elphicke as saying: “A century ago the Dover Patrol kept the White Cliffs of Dover and the English Channel safe in time of war. Now we need to declare war on the cross Channel people-traffickers with a New Dover Patrol.
“We need more ships on patrol in the English Channel. The Government should recall Royal Naval currently patrolling the borders of Mediterranean nations – who have more border control vessels than we do – to keep the English Channel safe and secure.”
His comments come a week after France introduced armed “sea marshals” on its vessels.
A drill last Monday saw marshals in full military gear flown in by helicopter onto the Mont Saint-Michel ferry, with passengers being alerted they were part of a security exercise.
David Balston of the UK Chamber of Shipping said last week: “Security levels are continually reviewed and there is a constant dialogue between ferry companies and the relevant authorities, both in the UK and in France, to ensure the best possible security for passengers.”
The exercise followed numerous terror attacks in France, Belgium and Germany, with French President Francois Hollande facing increasing demands to beef up security.