Chichester has been named as one of Britain’s ‘border weakspots’ where hundreds of migrants are being smuggled into the country.
Chichester and Portsmouth are two of the 13 ‘migrant smuggling hotspots’ being targeted by criminal gangs, according to Europol, the European police agency.
The news follows the arrest of 17 Albanian migrants aboard a catamaran at Chichester Marina last week, along with a British man who has been charged with facilitating illegal entry into the UK.
People smugglers are said to be increasingly targeting smaller harbours like Chichester’s because they are not protected by border officials.
Rob Wainwright, the head of Europol, told the Daily Telegraph: “I think, as I’m sure the UK Border Force understands, it has to plug all gaps in the border and this is an example of how difficult it is sometimes to get the balance right.
“They’ve got finite resources like any other public-sector organisation.
“They have to make tactical decisions on a daily basis about where they target their resources.
“Normally those would be on the major port areas for obvious reasons and because of that, normally they are very successful by standards of other European countries in apprehending most illegal attempts to get into the country.”
Gangs are reportedly charging desperate migrants upwards of £10,000 to cross the Channel and enter Britain.
As well as Chichester and Portsmouth, other ports which Europol has named as ‘hotspots’ for migrant smuggling include Newhaven in East Sussex, Whistable in Kent, Hull, Immingham in North East Lincolnshire, Tilbury and Purfleet in Essex.
The Home Office does not comment on the measures taken to protect individual ports or airports.
However, if intelligence suggests that there will be an increase in the numbers of migrants attempting to enter via certain ports it will consider deploying additional officers to carry out more searches in those locations.
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