Friday, September 11, 2009

UK Border Agency Pulls Out of Boulogne

Concerns that illegal immigrants may find Boulogne ‘easy’
Shipping News Feature

UK / FRANCE - The UK Border Agency has withdrawn its search staff and immigration officers from Boulogne, stating a permanent presence is no longer necessary. A private company has been contracted to take responsibility for checking vehicles for stowaways.

In place of a dedicated team a mobile response unit based in Calais, some 22 miles from Boulogne, shall now be the agency’s representation for the port.

The pullout comes at a time when record numbers of illegal migrants are attempting to smuggle themselves into Britain and has met with some criticism.

Mark Hammond, of the Public and Commercial Services Union which represents more than 2,000 immigration officers, has been quoted as saying that traffickers would now see Boulogne as “an easy target.”

Concerns are aggravated by the fact that the private company now employed to undertake checks, Eamus Cork Security (ECS), have been criticised in the past for serious lapses in their procedures, including on several occasions staff falling asleep and allowing detained persons to escape.