The UK Border Agency does not have permanent staff at any of the country’s marinas or small harbours. As a result, the marinas are left open to boats sneaking into dock.
UKBA bosses asserted that employing staff at every single UK marina and small harbour would not be practical. There are around 400 of them.
The Marina staff have now voluntarily started acting as the first line of defence against illegal immigrants, smugglers and terrorists.
The Hartlepool Marina workers are providing a constant barrier by taking details of boats and keeping in contact with the UKBA.
Captains of any foreign boats coming into Hartlepool are ordered to give details of their boats, crew and their previous port. The information is then passed to the UKBA.
Allan Henderson, director of Hartlepool Marina, said the information provided by his staff helped officials check the shores and underline any dangers.
He disclosed confidential plans were in place and action was quickly taken when there were suspicions over crew or cargo.
Henderson said a lot of information is shared as they work closely with the UK Border Agency and other agencies on immigration, customs and terrorism.
Henderson said “This was a voluntary role and was not necessarily in place in other marinas, but they believe it is important.”
Henderson said UKBA officials have not been needed at the town’s marina for “quite a long time”.
Hartlepool Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “It’s not an ideal situation. I would want such places covered by proper officials and Government departments.
As per a report in the Hartlepool Mail, a spokesman for the service, said the UK Border Agency is intelligence-led and they have teams around the country responsible for working with small ports, marinas and airfields.
He added “Our fleet of cutters operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to disrupt any potential sea-borne criminal threat. We also work closely with the National Maritime Information Centre, coastguard, police and other law enforcement agencies to protect the UK coastline and prevent customs and immigration crime.”