UKBA chief inspector to visit Galloway ports

FOLLOWING pressure from an MP who fears for the security situation at ports in Galloway, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, John Vine, is set to make a visit to see the situation for himself.

MP Russell Brown held a meeting with Mr Vine on Tuesday but is now also seeking a meeting with UK Border Agency Chief Executive, Rob Whiteman, to get an update on what measures the Border Agency is taking to tighten up security following high profile criticism about the increasing number of illegal immigrants using the route.

The number of immigration offenders travelling through the ports has soared since both UK and Scottish Governments slashed police numbers at the ports.

Last month Dumfries and Galloway seized over £2 billion worth of drugs at the ports, one of the largest hauls in its history.

Following the meeting with the Independent Chief Inspector, Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “We both agree that what has been in place simply isn’t adequate and that the crossing from Northern Ireland through Dumfries and Galloway is a nexus point for illegal immigration.

“The Galloway Ports have suffered from a double whammy of reckless cuts from both UK and Scottish Governments. What made these even more damaging was the breakdown in communication that followed between the different agencies responsible. The cuts came out the blue, which left everyone reeling. This meant plans to try and mitigate the cuts weren’t even introduced until a year after the UK Government removed their funding.

“It is clear to both of us that we need much closer collaboration between all the agencies involved. That means Dumfries and Galloway Police, the Scottish Government, UK Border Agency and the Irish Republic working better together, because any weak link in the chain will be exploited by the criminal gangs.

“I want to send a clear signal to both the UK and Scottish Governments that I simply won’t accept them continuing to bury their heads in the sand and pretend there isn’t a problem. It’s time they woke up to the scale of the threat at the Galloway ports. When David Mundell visits on behalf of the Government in the next few weeks, he has some very serious questions to answer.”