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How well protected is Norfolk’s coast? Not very, say experts

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:40 11 February 2017

National Crime Agency file photo. Photo: NCA/PA Wire

National Crime Agency file photo. Photo: NCA/PA Wire

A Home Affairs Select Committee reported last year that there were just three Border Force boats patrolling 7,700 miles of Britain’s coastline at any one time.

The holdalls discovered on a beach in Hopton (Picture: NCA)The holdalls discovered on a beach in Hopton (Picture: NCA)

Italy, by comparison, had 600 vessels for 4,700 miles of coastline.

The report found Border Force was “clearly under-resourced”, with the number of vessels in operation “worryingly low”.

Since then more boats have been drafted in to mainly target people smugglers looking to get migrants across the Channel.

The North Sea coast, meanwhile, remains open and isolated.

Hopton beach. 

Picture: James BassHopton beach. Picture: James Bass

Last summer Dutch police stopped a boat with 26 migrants and a map of Sea Palling onboard.
And former Metropolitan Police special branch officer Chris Hobbs said the coastline was “extremely vulnerable” with little in the way of defences to stop smugglers.
“You are going to find weak spots given the lack of police and border force officers,” he said.
“If you want to move stuff across the North Sea, it is not terrible difficult.
“If you plan what you do well, you have got to be fairly unlucky to be intercepted.”
Last year, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said the region’s coast was particularly vulnerable to smugglers.
And a National Crime Agency briefing from April that year said: “We know that as well as the main cross-channel ports, criminals are increasingly seeking to target less busy ones – from Tilbury to Purfleet up to Hull on the east coast.”
With little resource to police the long coast line, authorities rely on volunteers and the public to help.
Volunteers from the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) keep an eye on our coast during the day.
They have five stations in Norfolk at Wells, East Runton, Mundesley, Caister and Gorleston.
Linda Lawrence, station manager at Caister, said they check the beach every morning for anything untoward and alert the coastguard.
The Sea Safety Group also runs five look-out stations along the coast from Sheringham to Pakefield, staffed by volunteers during the day.
In the case of the drugs found on Hopton beach, it was a member of the public who called the police on Thursday afternoon.
Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Lorne Green said officers relied on the community to alert them to any dangers.
UKIP county councillor for East Flegg, Jonathan Childs said: “We are lucky this huge amount of drugs has not ended up on our streets.”

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8 comments

  • What I find worrying besides this drug find is telling everyone how bad our coastal security is , if the drug barons in Europe did not know they certainly do now !!!!

    Report this comment

    Muddy

    Saturday, February 11, 2017

  • How I agree with Budgie it seems border security is a joke in this country, as been pointed out Italy has 600 Vessels patrolling it's coasts. As the UK is the favoured destination for illegal entries and drug gangs this should be treated with the utmost urgency, from Essex right up to Humberside this stretch of coastline needs to be watched at all times. There is only so much that volunteer coast watch and the public can do. To have so much cocaine arrive on a beach in Norfolk shows how serious this problem is.

    Report this comment

    trodas5

    Saturday, February 11, 2017

  • True both. Often thought that at sea palling bacton anywhere really, who takes much notice if people are in oilskins. This haul though, doesn't look battered, was clearly marked to be picked up by a boat, seems to have been destined to be picked up locally. Just a few days ago Graham plant berated Jonathan childs for daring to question law and order in Yarmouth, playing politics rather than facing the truth as we live with it. A day later yet another raid for class A drugs in Yarmouth. And now this which feels a bit close for comfort.

    Report this comment

    FlintinChalk

    Friday, February 10, 2017

  • The police on the beach right now...i bet alot of people will be searching the rocks tomorrow to try and pay off the mortgage...Hell i would....

    Report this comment

    Alan Sowle

    Friday, February 10, 2017

  • I stood on Cromer beach one evening with some friends. A small boat came ashore and eight people walked up the beach on to the prom, into the back of a waiting van, and drove off. Ring the police, then. Yeah? All local stations were either closed or unmanned at night. 999? That would go through to Hethersett. By the time any action was taken the group of men could have been anywhere. Yes, our coast is protected. But not very well.

    Report this comment

    budgie

    Friday, February 10, 2017

  • I am no professional coastal man but I have been saying for years - to anyone who will listen - that the UK's borders do not start and finish at Dover. The East Coast is like a sieve and to try and seal it against determined immigrants or people smugglers is doomed to failure. Cromer is 110 miles from Holland, a nothing-distance for a seaworthy rubber dinghy. All around the North Norfolk coast and as far down as Lowestoft and Walberswick, craft from the Continent regularly visit. What checks are made at these places? When I lived on the coast it was a known fact that there was just one Revenue boat (if that is what you call them) patrolling from the Thames to The Humber. So work out how often that was spotted! The Government can do what it likes at Dover, Heathrow and other major airports, but to claim our borders are sealed is rubbish.

    Report this comment

    budgie

    Friday, February 10, 2017

  • I am no professional coastal man but I have been saying for years - to anyone who will listen - that the UK's borders do not start and finish at Dover. The East Coast is like a sieve and to try and seal it against determined immigrants or people smugglers is doomed to failure. Cromer is 110 miles from Holland, a nothing-distance for a seaworthy rubber dinghy. All around the North Norfolk coast and as far down as Lowestoft and Walberswick, craft from the Continent regularly visit. What checks are made at these places? When I lived on the coast it was a known fact that there was just one Revenue boat (if that is what you call them) patrolling from the Thames to The Humber. So work out how often that was spotted! The Government can do what it likes at Dover, Heathrow and other major airports, but to claim our borders are sealed is rubbish.

    Report this comment

    budgie

    Friday, February 10, 2017

  • I am no professional coastal man but I have been saying for years - to anyone who will listen - that the UK's borders do not start and finish at Dover. The East Coast is like a sieve and to try and seal it against determined immigrants or people smugglers is doomed to failure. Cromer is 110 miles from Holland, a nothing-distance for a seaworthy rubber dinghy. All around the North Norfolk coast and as far down as Lowestoft and Walberswick, craft from the Continent regularly visit. What checks are made at these places? When I lived on the coast it was a known fact that there was just one Revenue boat (if that is what you call them) patrolling from the Thames to The Humber. So work out how often that was spotted! The Government can do what it likes at Dover, Heathrow and other major airports, but to claim our borders are sealed is rubbish.

    Report this comment

    budgie

    Friday, February 10, 2017

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