The UK Government have recently announced a series of tough new immigration enforcement measures to combat an ever-increasing number of undocumented migrants entering the UK via the English Channel. This year alone it is thought that as many as forty thousand individuals have arrived via North European countries.
These new measures which will be implemented in the coming months are designed to counter the continued activities of people smuggling gangs who remain continually active in many European countries including France, Spain, and the Netherlands. The number of Albania nationals is of particular concern to UK authorities and it is understood that Albania will be deemed a `safe country`, which will result in the number of asylum applications being significantly reduced and deportation operations increased by 50 / 70 %.
The impact on vessels arriving with stowaways on board is likely to be significant and our team are already seeing a change in the way cases are being managed by UK Border Force at UK ports.In recent cases stowaways have been `refused entry to the UK` and masters order to detain individuals on board securely, despite vessel sizes, a lack of proper facilities or whether crews are able to cope with potentially violent incidents.
The UKBF (Border Force) will continue to attend on board arriving vessels carrying stowaways to ensure that stowaways are being held in secure accommodation and that the master is aware of his responsibilities to detain and avoid escape attempts at all costs.
These actions have in turn resulted in the increased number of occasions our security teams are being deployed to assist in stowaway cases, to ensure that vessel operations are not delayed or cancelled due to the presence of stowaways on board vessels.
It this therefore extremely important that stowaways are held securely on board, searched if safe to do so and some basic information, evidence of identity, nationality collected.
Shipowners should be aware that under section 40 of the UK Immigration & Asylum Act 1999 fines of £2000.00 per stowaway, remain in place and are most likely to increase in 2023.
Cases presently being dealt with by the Crew Care Team are not limited to Albanian nationals, thus shipowners should be aware of a noticeable increase in stowaway activity from West African ports.
It remains essential that vessels / crews trading within Europe remain on high alert and maintain ISPS anti-stowaway measures on board, including constant access control via the gangway, the use of additional lighting at night and regular stowaway searches. It is also recommended that the use of external security resources should be used at high-risk ports.
Our experienced team remains on constant standby to assist shipowners in stowaway cases.
Senior Marine Consultant
M +44 (0)7785 73 46 33
T +44 (0)1444 87 69 40
Crew Care Coordinator
M +44 (0) 7931 510353
T +44 (0)1444 87 69 40