CALLS for the government to fund specially-trained dogs at Portsmouth International Port have been made by the city’s Lib Dem leader.
Gerald Vernon-Jackson has urged ministers to cover the costs to stop illegal immigrants entering the country.
He said: ‘I understand that the people working for Border Force are not stopping illegal immigrants as effectively they should.’
Cllr Vernon-Jackson, who is also the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, sent a letter to Minister for Immigration James Brokenshire stating that the UK Border Force would be more efficient if it had the support of dogs that can help find people trying to get into the UK.
Currently the force only has access to dogs to find drugs and cigarettes smuggled into the country
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘Border Force wanted to get a dog unit that is trained to be able to sniff out people hiding in lorries, but they are not being allowed it by the government.
‘There is already a company that provides them and have a team available if the government wants them.’
The company that provides the dogs for Operation Wagitail, Wagtail UK, has been working with UK Border Force since December 2008 to detect human scent in freight and vehicles leaving northern France.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It seems like a bad, short-term decision to not provide these dogs in Portsmouth.’
‘If illegal immigrants are able to get into the country, they will pay no taxes and so the country loses money.
‘Once they are in the country, it’s then difficult to get them out as you have to go through the courts to send them back home.’
Leader of Portsmouth City Council Cllr Donna Jones said: ‘I fully support the request for dogs at the international port.
‘However the staff that we have at the port are good and we haven’t had a breach in years.’
‘I’ve been in contact with the minister about this issue and I will be giving his response at full council meeting next Tuesday.’
The Home Office has yet to see the letter and was unable to comment.