Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The People Who Police The Worst Of The Shipping Industry

Border Agency Staff Always See the Dark Side
Shipping News Feature

UK – Whilst most involved in the freight industry beaver away in various specialised roles, from fork truck driver to stevedore and Bill of Lading clerk, there is whole army of Government employees concerned with policing every facet of the industry. For most of us there is a blurred line separating HM Revenue and Customs and the UK Border Agency but this is to be expected as the two roles apparently overlap, in fact this is not the case.

These days the guy who rummages through your truck for contraband is not a Customs Officer, all border points are manned by Border Agency staff, whilst Customs have reverted to an internal role, far more concerned with import licensing and revenue collection.

The UK Border Agency is viewed by many as a necessary evil, but they perform a thankless task with woefully inadequate resources, yet still manage to achieve a consistent set of results in all their fields of operation. Just as a beat bobby may have to deal with problems ranging from a lost child to an armed robbery so a glimpse at just this weeks headlines clearly illustrates the complexity and scope of the problems faced by the Agency.

Yesterday £300,000 worth of cannabis was seized at Portsmouth from an incoming lorry, a German national had £45,000 worth of Euros confiscated when it was found stuffed in his trousers at Saint Pancras station, today saw five people arrested in a sting operation at what appears to be a sham marriage ceremony to gain British citizenship, last week sniffer dogs found a bunch of Eritreans in a lorry in Calais (Border Agency staff operate there in cooperation with the French authorities) another common occurence..

Outside the freight industry the agency has, as usual, made dozens of arrests this month, mostly people working illegally, many in ethnic restaurants, all over the country and in Northern Ireland. Employers have to be tracked down and prosecuted if they have not completed the relevant check. Just last week the Agency deported a man who previously had jumped into the sea at Torquay to avoid capture and had been apprehended by a ferry commandeered by the authorities.

Anyone who feels they fancy the change to a role at the sharp end of shipping however is likely to be disappointed. In line with Government cut backs no vacancies will be advertised until further notice.