SECURITY surrounding Britain’s inshore waters has been branded ‘a complete and utter dog’s dinner’ by a former Royal Navy chief.
Labour peer Lord West of Spithead raised his concerns around the protection of the nation’s coastline and urged government action, during question time in the House of Lords today.
He was joined by his party colleague Lord Harris of Haringey, who highlighted the threat posed by illegal arms and drugs coming into the country and called for more resources to safeguard the UK’s border.
Lord West, who headed the Royal Navy from 2002-06 and served as a security minister in the last Labour government, said: ‘The co-ordination of the very limited assets around our inshore waters – seven craft for the Border Force – is a complete and utter dog’s dinner.
‘Does the minister not agree that there is a crying need to establish a command and control centre to co-ordinate action that the National Maritime Intelligence Centre provides, so that we can actually protect our inshore waters? Because at the moment we are absolutely not doing that.’
Responding, Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford insisted the ‘multi-agency, multi-effort approach’ being taken to border security was the right one.
Labour peer Lord Harris pressed the government to increase the resources to protect the nation’s borders.
He pointed to a previous warning by the outgoing head of the Metropolitan Police over the increase in gun crime, being the result of illegal arms coming into the country.
He also highlighted the recent discovery of cocaine with a street value of more than £50m on the Suffolk and Norfolk coasts by dog walkers.
Lord Harris said: ‘Could the minister tell us whether the government is being complacent about the arrival of drugs and guns into this country, or whether they are actually going to do anything about increasing the resources to patrol our border and making them effective?’
Lady Williams said: ‘The government takes the issue of guns and drugs arriving in this country very, very seriously.’
She highlighted the success of a security operation last year, which led to arrests and the seizure of a large quantity of weapons and drugs.