There is concern that the kind of people smuggling seen in the Mediterranean may soon come to the English Channel, and according to Chief Inspector of Immigration and Borders David Bolt,
“’It isn’t just a question of people-smuggling. This is also a question of firearms, a question of drugs, we have been woefully unprepared.’
According to the post,
“Many European nations have significant coast guards with dozens, or even hundreds of craft working to protect human life at sea and the integrity of borders. Britain instead has a variety of agencies including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, which has a small number of craft, the Border agency, which presently has two of their five customs cutters deployed to the Mediterranean rather than in home waters, and charities including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution which has no border defence role.
“Of the United Kingdom’s approximately 1,000 ports and harbours, only 500 are large enough to warrant the security features such as fences and restricted areas as mandated by the International Ship and Port Facility Security code, leaving half totally open to smugglers. At many UK ports, police and border force visits can be rare.”
I have no idea how serious this problem really is, or how serious it may become, but it does remind me of one advantage of having a relatively large, agile, multi-mission force as opposed to several smaller, narrowly focused organizations. When the US is suddenly faced with a crisis, be it a humanitarian crisis like the Mariel Boat Lift, weather related like Hurricane Katrina, a man made pollution incident like the Deepwater Horizon, or a natural disaster like the Earthquake in Haiti, the Coast Guard has the organization, the authority, the resources, and the culture that allows it to refocus and respond.
Thanks to Mike for bringing this to my attention.