Boat owners’ views

Ian Evans (left) and Paul Bell
Ian Evans (left) and Paul Bell

BOAT owners and tenants at Navigation Point, in Hartlepool, are in agreement about the lack of first line defence in harbours.

Ian Evans, 58, who lives on one of the boats on the Marina, said: “There would be nothing to stop me sailing across to Holland, loading up on illegals and sailing back in.

“As it is, my boat doesn’t leave the marina but that’s just giving an example.

“I think marina staff do a good job of checking the boats as they come in but that’s all they can do, they can’t check every individual.

“All ports are the same, it isn’t just here in Hartlepool.”

Paul Bell, 87, an owner of a boat in Hartlepool Marina who has been sailing from the town for the last 40 years, said: “It shouldn’t be the responsibility of Marina staff, there should be more checks.

“I have gone into Yarmouth from Holland and it has been through my honesty that I have gone into the customs office, but I could have quite easily gone without doing so.

Paul, who lives in Sadberge, just outside of Darlington, added: “Obviously there are no customs here anymore.

“Nothing would stop me picking up an immigrant, bringing them into Hartlepool and off they go.”

Ronald Barber, 64, who has owned a boat on the Marina for the last six years, added: “It isn’t the job of Marina staff to check, it should be the job of the UK Border Agency.

“We have all sorts of boats from abroad.

“We don’t know what they are bringing in, nobody is physically going on to the boats and checking.”

A boat owner who didn’t want to be named, said: “There simply isn’t enough staff at the Marina to do a thorough check on every single boat.

“I don’t even know whether it should be their responsibility anyway, I think the Border Agency should do more.

“I don’t know whether I would call it dangerous but people can quite easily come in without thorough checks.”

Another owner added: “The Marina staff do an excellent job and I don’t think they have the time to check every single boat that comes in.

“In an ideal world the Border Agency and customs would be here.

“We have plenty of boats coming in from abroad and staying for two or three nights, I don’t know how many checks take place.”