A fleet of boats for the Border Force has been withdrawn from the English Channel. Now, only private boats that normally service wind farms have been left to patrol for migrants, reportedly costing the taxpayer up to £36million a year.
The Home Office has admitted that none of the Government-owned cutters or coastal patrol vessels were used to deal with small boats crossing the Channel in 2023.
The fleet of five cutters is old and due to be replaced, they spent at least three long periods last year being repaired and serviced.
This has pushed the Home Office to splash out on a private fleet of catamarans, normally used for wind farms and now the UK’s only Channel patrol, according to the Sun.
Of the 604 small boat incidents last year, 544 were intercepted by commercial vessels while the rest by the RNLI.
Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson revealed the five cutters and six coastal patrol vessels were not used at all.
In a written parliamentary answer he says: “During 2023, the Cutter & CPV fleet did not provide assistance to small boat operations in the South East region.
“Instead, Border Force utilised a fleet of five Commercial Transfer Vessels (CTVs) – Defender, Hurricane, Ranger, Typhoon and Volunteer.”
Border Force officials are on board the CTV vessels but the crews are private seamen.
The Home Office said: “Large boats like Cutters and Coastal Patrol Vessels are not suitable for rescue and recovery operations.
“Alternative vessels are better equipped for the English Channel, and return specialist Border Force equipment to protect the rest of the UK’s border.”