BORDER Force officers face an uphill struggle to prevent terrorists from sneaking into the UK, a security expert has warned.
The worrying claim came from the boss of Portsmouth-based defence firm Dryad Maritime yesterday.
Graeme Gibbon Brooks, a retired Lieutenant Commander with the Royal Navy, founded the company in 2009.
Since then, Dryad has become a world leader in maritime security, advising top shipping companies on piracy and terror threats.
And now, as the firm celebrates receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its work, Lt Cdr Gibbon Brooks has told of the mounting challenges the nation faces in securing its 20,000 miles of coastline.
He said: ‘The problem is the sea is vast.
‘Finding a criminal gang or a high-threat terrorist target in it is like wondering around a rugby pitch, looking for a mouse through a bog roll – it’s incredibly hard.’
The Portsmouth-based Border Force already works alongside the National Crime Agency and police as part of Project Kraken.
The counter-terrorism scheme operates across the nation as well as in the Solent and is designed to prevent terrorists entering the UK.
As part of it, people are being urged to report any suspicious behaviour along the beaches and coastlines at any time of the day.
But, Lt Cdr Gibbon Brooks said this operation could have potential ‘gaps’ which could be exploited by terrorists.
He explained that criminal gangs smuggling people into the UK would tend to land on secluded beaches.
‘The problem here is that there will be nobody around at 3am and the possibility of them being disrupted is much smaller,’ he explained.
The Dryad chief executive instead said a ‘directed policing’ approach could be taken.
This would see Border Force vessels placed in strategic locations covering vulnerable stretches of coastline and known departure points.
He said this would put a stranglehold on the routes terrorists could use to sneak into the UK.
He added: ‘The probability of terrorists getting into the country is small. But the potential impact could be huge.’
As part of Project Kraken, those who spot anything suspicious on beaches or coastline are being urged to report it by calling 0845 045 45 45.
For more details, see hants.gov.uk and search ‘Project Kraken’.