With recent changes to new immigration enforcement measures such as the Permission to Travel Scheme which aims to increase security at UK ports. UKBF (UK Border Force) at UK ports is introducing stringent measures to manage ships carrying passengers without proper identification documents or stowaways. All members should be aware of these new policies in order to ensure compliance with the latest regulations.
In the coming months, Britain is taking action against rising illegal immigration in response to an influx of migrants crossing the English Channel. This shift could dramatically affect all vessels venturing towards UK ports and shores.
In recent months, the club has been made aware of multiple incidents in which stowaways were denied entry to Britain. Consequently, masters have faced orders to keep these individuals on board their vessels despite a lack of suitable detention areas and insufficient thought given as to whether the vessel crew can handle potentially aggressive stowaways safely.
European ports have recently been witness to a surge in stowaway activity, with multitudes of individuals sneaking onto the container and general cargo vessels headed for UK harbours including Bristol, London, Portsmouth, Liverpool, Southampton, Newcastle and Great Yarmouth.
The UKBF heads the mission of guaranteeing safe, secure shelter for immigrants arriving on ships with stowaways. The master aboard the ship must also assume his responsibility to detain them and defend against any escape attempts.
As masters take charge of stowaways onboard, it is their duty to accurately identify the nationality and citizenship status, date of birth, home address details as well as language fluency along with any medical conditions they may have and note the location from which each passenger originally embarked. In the event of a stowaway on board, it is now mandatory to notify the relevant authorities in order to stay compliant with MGN 70 (M) Amendment 1.
It is important for members to recognize the serious ramifications of stowaways on vessels. According to Section 40 (2) of the UK Immigration & Asylum Act 1999, failing to prevent such incidents can lead owners of ships to face hefty fines of up to £2000 per individual. Ignoring the proper paperwork for an individual aboard your ship could put you on the hook financially. A 30-day time period for defence against this hefty fine is provided, but only if a ship can demonstrate it took proper security measures onboard as prevention.
It is essential that thorough searches are conducted to help protect against possible unauthorized access. This is especially true with recent developments pointing towards a larger penalty fee in 2023
Experienced traders in Europe need to stay vigilant and employ anti-stowaway measures such as the constant monitoring of entries aboard ships using gangways, extra lighting after dark and regular checks for potential stowed-away passengers. To further reduce risk when docking in high-risk ports, external security resources can play an important role.