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Volunteer border force discussions take place at high level

A bird's eye view of the port area.
Picture: Jack Locke Freelance Photography

A bird's eye view of the port area. Picture: Jack Locke Freelance Photography

Archant

The creation of a border volunteer force for the Norfolk coast has taken a step forward following formal discussions between the county’s police and the Home Office.

In December it was revealed the government was looking at a Border Force Special Volunteers scheme in which ports would be patrolled, with speculation Great Yarmouth would be included in a pilot scheme on the east coast involving 50 volunteers.

While there are few firm details, the project has moved forward following discussions between the Home Office and Norfolk police, which could see special constables involved.

The National Crime Agency and the Maritime Coastguard Agency were also involved in the negotiations,

A Norfolk Police spokesman said, “We are aware that Border Force has held initial discussions with our Special Constabulary in relation to the potential merits of establishing a Special Volunteer force within Border Force.

“However, we are yet to be made aware of any formal proposals or involvement required from Norfolk Police. For that reason it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

News of the discussions was revealed by Caroline Nokes, the minister for immigration.

She said: “Formal discussions have taken place with Norfolk Police Constabulary, National Crime Agency and Maritime Coastguard Agency.

“Informal discussions have included Essex and Kent Police Force and Metropolitan Police Force.

“There are no current plans to consult non public sector bodies.

“Currently a proposal regarding the pilot is being prepared for discussion with Senior Border Force Officials to consider if the pilot scheme will proceed at this time.

“The purpose of a small pilot potentially being held will be to assess the benefit on existing activities.”

There had been speculation Lowestoft and Southwold would also be involved in the scheme.

Last year a Home Office report showed 62 ports, wharves, marinas and jetties on the east coast that were normally unmanned found Border Force officers had not been to 27 of the sites during the 15 months from April 2015 to June 2016.

Last December a spokesman for the Home Office said volunteers would not be used by Immigration Enforcement and it was committed to ensuring the Border Force had the resources it needed.

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