South coast community 'to tackle migrant boat threat'

Community intelligence is needed to tackle the migrant boat threat along the south coast, a National Crime Agency (NCA) chief has said.

Border policing command deputy director Tom Dowdall said a fresh intelligence-gathering campaign was being launched.

He said the threat around Essex, Kent and Sussex from migrants reaching the UK in small boats needed attention.

MPs have raised concerns about a lack of Border Force boats to patrol the coast.

The Home Affairs Select Committee said only three boats were available to patrol 7,000 miles of shoreline. The Home Office said it made use of radar and aerial surveillance and has ordered eight more boats.

In the latest incident, Sussex Police arrested five men at Winchelsea after a group arrived on a dinghy.

Police said the group, all from Iran, were held on suspicion of gaining illegal entry to the UK on Sunday and are now being dealt with by the Home Office.

Mr Dowdall said: "We will, with Border Force, be re-launching a community-intelligence gathering over the course of this summer.

"What we ask people to look out for is what out there did they consider to be abnormal.

"We certainly think that the threat that's posed in the south coast... requires some more focused attention with the local communities, which we think will be very helpful to us."

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