Memorandum by Kent County Constabulary
PHYSICAL CONTROLS AT UK PORTS OF ENTRY
1. I write on behalf of the Chief Constable of
the Kent County Constabulary in response to your enquiry into
the physical controls which operate at United Kingdom Ports of
Entry. You will be aware that our policing area contains major
ports at Folkestone, Dover and the Channel Tunnel which provide
substantial routes for tax evasion of alcohol and tobacco in addition
to the traffic in illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.
2. CURRENT AND
2.1 As far as illegal immigrants and asylum
seekers are concerned, they fall into two broad categories encountered
at Dover and the Channel Tunnel who are "facilitated"
and lead to arrests being made. These are "clandestine illegal
entrants" and "asylum claimants".
2.2 Clandestine illegal entrants previously
wished to avoid detection, preferring to "lose" themselves
within the community. They had to pay an agent (who in turn paid
the driver of the vehicle) for the service which meant that systems
were organised to enable these persons to be discreetly disembarked,
once in the United Kingdom. Each "illegal entrant" had
to pay a large sum of money to secure this service.
2.3 In early 1998, a new trend was identified
which in numerical terms has spiralled dramatically. Illegal entrants
have been secreted in vehicles and trailers by Agents in the Calais
area, without the driver's knowledge. The Agents can drastically
reduce their fees as no risks are taken by themselves with minimal
overheads. This change was brought about by the fact that the
illegal entrants, once discovered, made application for asylum
and were granted temporary admission into the community whilst
their application was considered.
2.4 To give the reader some idea as to the
increase in this category of entrant the following figures are
Clandestine entrants (at Dover only)
Nearly all this category claim "Asylum" on discovery.
3. Undocumented arrivalsAsylum Claimants are people
who disembark from the ferry as foot passengers, present themselves
at the Immigration Control and apply for asylum.
3.1 They usually board the ferry travelling in a vehicle
and present false documents to the carrying company to circumvent
the provisions of the Carriers Liability Act. The passports are
then retrieved by the Agent or Facilitator for future re-issue.
3.2 A further method is to conceal the entrants in a
vehicle which is driven onto the ferry in the normal manner. Once
safely at sea, the people decamp from the vehicle, again disembarking
as foot passengers on the arrival at Dover where asylum is claimed.
3.3 Figures for undocumented arrivals (Dover only):
3.4 The Facilitation Support Unit, based at Dover is
jointly staffed by police and Immigration Officers. It is tasked
with investigating incidents where a facilitation is identified.
It necessarily follows that there are two types of facilitation:
(i) facilitation of illegal entrants and
(ii) facilitation of asylum claimants.
The amendment of Section 25(1) of the Immigration Act 1971
introduced the "gain" element into these offences.
3.5 In 1998, 24 incidents occurred at Dover where a specific
facilitation was identified in 1999. This rose to 134 with 315
investigations being launched.
4. Economic migration will continue with the disparity
between the wealth of nations. There can be little real expectation
of a reversal of current trends.
4.1 Facilitation is a lucrative trade with latest intelligence
suggesting that £2,200 is payable in advance for illegal
passage from France to the United Kingdom.
4.2 Efforts devoted to maintaining physical controls
at Ports must be proportionate to the level of threat imposed
by the established links between Organised Crime (including tax
evasion), drug trafficking and the smuggling of illegal entrants
and asylum seekers.
4.3 Migration on the scale now being encountered within
the county exacerbates inter-ethnic tensions and xenophobia. There
has been a vicious murder, large scale disturbances and political
activity by far-right groups, reported in sensational fashion
by local and national media.
4.4 The eastern land border and Mediterranean Sea are
difficult to police. The "Fortress Europe" approach,
coupled with free movement within Schengen States makes the proposition
of dismantling our controls an unattractive one. At present our
air and sea ports limit entry points which assist efficient policing.
There being no identity card system in the United Kingdom, unlike
other member states, it is of paramount importance that control
is maintained at the port of entry.
5.1 Ferry companies do not have any form of CCTV/video
recording facilities on car decks. Were this a mandatory requirement,
it would be a sound preventative measure and be far easier to
identify those involved in facilitation, their vehicles, and enhance
the chances of a successful prosecution. This would add to measures
such as CCTV on the land side and most importantly the Automatic
Number Plate Reader (ANPR) System installed at Cheriton, Coquelles
and Dover Eastern Docks.
5.2 The latest initiative to stem the tide of illegal
entrants to the United Kingdom is the power to impose civil liabilities
on the owners of vehicles found to contain such persons. The main
aspiration behind this legislation is one of prevention and is
fully supported. The practical and logistical difficulties that
ensue must however be highlighted.
5.3 One of the difficult areas in this regard is the
Coquelles side of the Channel Tunnel. Here every freight vehicle
is checked on entering the British Control Zone by Eurotunnel
employees. Recently several instances have occurred whereby the
immigrants have smoked and even cooked meals in the rear of vehicles.
The implications do not need further elaboration as to the risks
of a major fire whilst underground. Part of the legislation allows
the seizure of the vehicle and contentsbut how can this
be achieved in France where despite numerous "offending"
lorries, there is no facility to store them and the "offending"
driver (providing he had no guilty knowledgeand most do
not) is unable to travel back via the tunnel as planned. When
discussing the civil liability legislation the problems at our
"port in France" should be remembered.
5.4 Comment upon the role of the Immigration Service
will be made later but the police have some doubts as to whether
they have sufficient resources to deal with the powers granted
by this legislation and have given little thought to the seizure
of vehicles once they have left the port environment. If a vehicle
were to be discovered containing immigrants in the Surrey countryside
would the Immigration Service be in a position to respond to deal
with the occupants, let alone seizing the lorry and load? Our
view within Kent is that the police are content to deal with the
immigrants in these circumstances, detaining them until they can
be processed. It is not our function to deal with the removal
and storage of the vehicle under the civil liability opportunities.
6.1 The Asylum and Immigration Act 1999 has provision
which removes the ability to prosecute illegal entrants and asylum
seekers found in possession of stolen or forged identity documents.
The Police, Crown Prosecution Service, UNHCR, the Law Society
and others have been working together to address this provision.
The danger from the Police viewpoint is the unwillingness to prosecute
in every case. The legislation clearly states that the section
applies to those carrying false documents who have come directly
to the United Kingdom from the country where they are under threat.
This would exclude of course, every entrant travelling via the
Kent Ports. The current negotiations would appear, despite police
advice, to suggest that to those who the statutory defence is
not available, it is "unlikely to be in the public interest"
to prosecute. In our view, having already alluded to the importance
of false documentation in the facilitation process, this aspiration
gives organised criminals licence to print money.
7.1 Vast amounts of money are now being made by those
involved in tax evasion. A joint Police, Benefits Agency and Her
Majesty's Customs & Excise Unit exists at Dover Port which
deals exclusively with bootleggers. To date over 27,000 nominals
have been created of those targets smuggling tobacco and alcohol
into the United Kingdom on a grand scale.
7.2 It should be clearly understood that these people
are involved in organised crime with some organisers causing over
40 trips per day being made by their "runners". So huge
are the profits that the following has occurred:
Organised crime families and networks have abandoned
drugs, firearms and vice as their main commodities and have switched
to bootlegging alcohol and tobacco. With their intricate networks
already in existence, they have moved from Glasgow, Manchester,
Newcastle and other large conurbation's into East Kent bringing
with them all the difficulties which attach themselves to this
level of criminality.
Local criminals in Kent, many of the travelling
community, have become wealthy and are now capable of forming
powerful criminal organisations.
Despite a good working relationship between the Police, HMC&E
and like colleagues in France and Belgium, we are having trouble
in combating this criminality and the social problems it brings.
There is an increasing amount of violence portrayed in the coastal
towns where "turf wars" have developed between different
gangs and a recent murder in Calais was involving rural bootleggers.
8.1 At present the frontier controls are maintained by
three agencies, Police Special Branch, HM Customs & Excise
and HM Immigration Service. Each has its own area of responsibility.
These agencies are supplemented by others, eg Port of Dover Police.
Kent Police Officers working under contract to Eurotunnel and
private security companies.
8.2 Two of the main agencies, HM Customs & Excise
(HMC&E) and HM Immigration Services (HMIS) are civil servants
and have various roles within their area of responsibility as
well as law enforcement. HM Customs & Excise collect revenue
and process legally imported goods. HM Immigration Services process
legitimate application to visit and stay within the United Kingdom.
Both also have law enforcement roles, HM Customs & Excise
dealing with the illegal importation of a whole variety of prohibited
articles and excise goods. HM Immigration Services with illegal
immigrants and persons facilitating them. This dual role causes
a number of problems including ability of staff to take on the
law enforcement side of their business, training issues, conflict
as to deal with an issue criminally or use civil powers (that
tend to be easier), resourcing and deployment of staff, as well
as a host of others. HM Customs & Excise also have this dual
role working inland, however, that is another issue.
8.3 This state of affairs has occurred over the last
few hundred years and needs to be reviewed. We should not be fighting
the organised criminal of the 21st Century with the tools of the
19th Century. One option would be to put all the law enforcement
responsibilities under one agency, a frontier police service,
leaving the non-law enforcement roles with the existing agencies.
Recruitment would initially need to be from existing personnel
from those agencies who wished to, and had the ability to, work
in law enforcement. There would also be a need to have conditions
of service more in line with the Police Service than the Civil
Service in order to give the necessary flexibility and status
required. Obviously there are other concerns that would need addressing
(eg jurisdiction away from points of entry etc.). This National
Frontier Police would be a sister organisation to the National
Crime Squad having its own Director General and contain a uniform
policing element to check travel documents and search vehicles
in appropriate circumstances. This organisation would include
a detective capability to deal with prevention of terrorism matters,
surveillance, intelligence gathering and dealing with facilitation
8.4 Further benefits of such a force would be economies
of scale with an end to the duplication of function, equipment
and a raft of different IT systems. There would be enhanced intelligence
collection and dissemination leading to improved quality of investigation.
There would be improved opportunities for the use of technology:
Passport readers linked directly to the Police
National Computercriminal names index;
Increased use of fingerprinting at ports with
rapid and accurate identity confirmation via electronic systems
(NAFIS and LIVESCAN);
Improved use of ANPR imaging with the prospect
of national networking.
This option could also create a "one stop shop"
for the benefit of national and European agencies and ensure a
smoother integration with Europol, Schengen etc.
I hope these comments are of use and if you considered it
appropriate, I would be happy to encourage a visit from the Committee
to examine the operations to combat illegal immigration and tax
evasion at Dover Port. A briefing and display of ANPR technology
at the Channel Tunnel might also be of benefit.
Detective Chief Superintendent
28 March 2000