SCOTTISH Office minister David Mundell has agreed to consider reinstating UK Border Agency staff at Cairnryan Port following a meeting there on Wednesday.
It was announced recently that six UK Border Agency staff are to be recruited for Belfast and at Wednesday’s private meeting between Mr Mundell, police chiefs and politicians, security concerns were raised with particular reference to recent illegal immigration figures relating to the port.
SNP MSP Dr Aileen McLeod welcomed Mr Mundell’s decision and said: “The substantial increases in detection of immigration offenders on both sides of the North Channel really make the case, as far as I am concerned, for better working between the UK Borders Agency and Dumfries & Galloway Constabulary.
“Given that local police accounted for 33 percent of all of the detections for immigrations offences in 2011, while the total number of offenders detected in Dumfries & Galloway rose by 77 percent, it is clear that immigration offences still place a substantial burden on our local police force.
“David Mundell said that he would look into the possibility of locating some UKBA staff at the Ports Unit again. While this is welcome, and justified by the figures, it really does highlight the foolishness of making the cut in the first place.”
Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown added: “When Dumfries and Galloway police officers are dealing with immigration offenders it means they are diverted from counter terrorism duties and my big fear is that something will be missed.
“The Tory-led Government recklessly cut the UKBA seconded officers from the ports in 2010 and our area has been paying the price ever since. UKBA told us that illegal immigrants would be stopped at the Northern Irish end before getting to Dumfries and Galloway, but that hasn’t happened. The Minister finally agreed to look at getting UKBA officers on the ground at the ports to help the police. I will hold him to that because they can’t just be empty words. That means the Government must put money where their mouth is and ensure the funding is there to provide the proper resources.”