Open Waters: Arrests After Illegal Migrant Speedboat Caught on UK Shore

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Police have busted an alleged people-smuggling gang after intercepting a speedboat full of illegal migrants in the dead of night on the Dover coast on Friday.

Four Vietnamese nationals were held at Walmer beach on suspicion of immigration offences on the night of the operation, as well as a man, aged 35, from Bedfordshire and another, aged 34, from Oxford, on suspicion of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.

Three others were arrested later on Friday. The dramatic arrests were part of a joint operation conducted by Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and the UK Border Force.

ERSOU said: “We’ve arrested eight people today as part of an investigation into human trafficking, after intercepting a speedboat in Walmer, Kent.

“They have been taken to police custody for questioning. Thank you to [Kent Police] and Border Force who worked with us on this.”

ERSOU Detective Sergeant James Panter told Kent Live: “Clamping down on human trafficking and the illegal entry into the United Kingdom is one of ERSOU’s key priorities and we’re really pleased with the results from today’s operation.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners to tackle those who commit crime across the eastern region and we’d like to thank the Border Force for its support with this.”

Last year, the former head of the Borders Unit at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) warned that “successive governments have dismantled the layered mosaic of border security” which once protected Britain’s coast.

The Home Affairs Select Committee has also said that the Border Force has a “worryingly low” number of ships to patrol 7,000 miles of shoreline. At one point in 2017, there were just three boats available to guard UK shores.

Former Head of the Royal Navy, Lord West of Spithead, claimed that outside of major ports, the UK was “highly vulnerable”.


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