People-smuggling hotline stays silent despite government campaign urging public to report maritime crime

An initiative launched to encourage maritime communities to report suspicious behaviour off the British coast has had little interest, anti-crime bodies have admitted

Rachael Pells
Saturday 04 June 2016 19:40
Comments
A new Border Force cutter, HMC Protector, was unveiled in March as part of planned increases to coastline security
A new Border Force cutter, HMC Protector, was unveiled in March as part of planned increases to coastline security

A nationwide appeal urging the public to report suspicious activity at hundreds of marinas has resulted in just 53 relevant tip-offs in nearly 18 months.

Project Kraken, a joint initiative between Border Force, the National Crime Agency and UK police forces was launched in 2014 to help raise awareness in maritime communities of potential terrorism and series and organised crime.

Campaign fliers tell the public to report any unusual suspicious behaviour, “no matter how trivial it may seem”, stating that “the smallest thing can be significant”.

But the NCA confirmed it received 44 notifications from Operation Kraken in 2015 and just nine so far this year.

A spokesman told The Times that more tip-offs had most likely been reported, but these may have been directed to police forces and not sent through to the NCA if related to petty crime or minor disturbances rather than serious crimes such as people smuggling and drug trafficking.

The NCA emphasised that Kraken tip-offs could be useful for areas of crime that it was not directly involved in.

The low rate of public calls comes amid fears the British coastline is vulnerable to people smuggling. The NCA has previously warned that small ports and marines are “generally unpoliced” and are believed to be a target for illegal trafficking and migrants hoping to get around the tight security of larger ports.

Last week, two men from Kent were charged with immigration offences after 18 Albanians were rescued from an inflatable boat in the English Channel.

The incident has sparked fears that tragedies such as those seen in the Mediterranean could start to occur off the British coastline.

Home Secretary Theresa May last month ordered a shake-up of Britain’s coastal defences in order to increase its “maritime capacity”, furthering criticism over recent budget cuts made to the Border Force service.

There are currently five Border Force cutters patrolling the country’s coastline for signs of smuggling.

In its campaign leaflet, Project Kraken appeals to those using small boats for leisure or business, people working in maritime industries, coastal residents and those who dive or fish.

The flier states: “Whether you work in the maritime industries, are a keen sailor, or are just walking along the coast, your local knowledge and your experience of the maritime world means you are well placed to spot anything unusual.”

“By working together we can help to prevent terrorists and organised criminals posing a threat to your neighbours, your pastimes, your businesses and your livelihoods. They will exploit any opening they find.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in