People Smuggling Across the English Channel
Immigration officials questioned twenty people, including two children, rescued from an inflatable boat off the Kent coast on Sunday 29 May.
Eighteen of those on board, proved to be Albanian migrants and two Englishmen, Robert Stillwell and Mark Stribling, who were later charged with immigration offences.
The incident came to light when they ran into trouble off Dymchurch. Albanians aboard phoned friends in Calais that they needed help. Their friends alerted the authorities and a helicopter, Border Control vessel and two lifeboats raced to their rescue. There was one woman and two children aboard the dingy. After being rescued, the group were handed over to the UK Border Force and taken to Dover.
Questions are being asked – Is this the tip of the Iceberg? Another dingy was later found abandoned on Dymchurch Beach and reports of another abandoned dingy and a van collecting people off the roadside had been reported the week before.
David Monk, Conservative leader of the local authority, reportedly said that
“He believed high levels of surveillance in the English Channel would mean most boats crossing the Channel would be identified” He went on
“I am pretty sure our security is good.” He continued
“I cannot recall a previous incident but this should act as a warning to the authorities to be even more vigilant.”
One wonders how he came to these conclusions.
Point One – The UK Border Authority have just FIVE patrol vessels of which one is held in reserve and another is stationed in the Aegean Sea. The French have TWENTY such vessels to patrol a shorter coastline than ours and the Italians have SIXTY for an even shorter patrol area.
Point Two – As for not recalling previous incidents, on the previous Tuesday 17 men, thought to be Albanian migrants, were detained after a catamaran arrived at Chichester Marina in West Sussex. A 55-year-old British man, wanted on suspicion of murder in Spain, was also aboard. He was the subject of a European Arrest Warrant and detained on suspicion of facilitating illegal immigration. The 17 men were held on suspicion of entering the UK illegally.
And what about the two Iranians found drifting in the Channel in February and four more pulled out of a dingy just off Dover in April?
Delve a little deeper and incidents that could be people smuggling related have been reported since 2014.
In April of that year the Dungeness Inshore Lifeboat, responding to a call from a fisherman, found a damaged abandoned dingy floating half a mile off shore. No one from the Lifeboat could say how or why it was abandoned.
“It was completely unmanned when we reached it. We can only guess
is that during the storms this winter it broke loose from its mooring and drifted out. But that would mean it at sea for weeks.
” No one had reported the two man craft missing”.
“Rye’s Own” Bulletin 30 May 2016
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