‘Complete Waste of Money’ – Boris Spends £500k a Year to Store Illegal Migrant Boats

DOVER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: A storage yard for the dinghies, ribs and rowing boats previously used by migrants to cross the English Channel from France is seen on August 11, 2020 in Dover, England. In recent weeks large numbers of migrants have travelled in small boats across the English …
Leon Neal/Getty Images

A legal loophole has seen the British taxpayer shell out about half a million pounds over the past year in storage costs for the small rubber boats used by people-smugglers to traffick illegal migrants into the United Kingdom.

The abandoned dinghies are stored in compounds dubbed the Queen’s Warehouses, as the confiscated materials will become “forfeit to the Crown.” The warehouses are stationed near the Port of Dover, where boat migrants are brought ashore by the Border force.

While they would typically be home to confiscated contraband such as weapons and drugs or customs prohibited items including cigarettes, tobacco, and alcohol, with the massive influx of illegal boat migrants over the past year the warehouses have begun storing the inflatable rubber dinghies used by people smugglers in the illegal migrant trade.

Due to the much larger size of the boats, the cost of storage has ramped up dramatically, with a source telling The Times that it amounts to £500,000 per year to house the boats.

Under Section 26 of the UK Borders Act 2007 and the Immigration Disposal of Property Regulations 2008, the government is required to hold onto confiscated items for at least one year in case someone comes forward to claim them.

The law has effectively prevented the government from selling off the boats or putting them to a better purpose as they are rendered unseaworthy after a year in storage.

Over the past year, no one has come forward to claim a single boat, according to the report, as they are used for one-way passage by the human trafficking gangs.

Conservative MP Peter Bone said that spending half a million pounds on storing migrant boats was “a complete waste of money”.

“What people-smuggler is going to turn up at the Home Office and say, ‘You’ve got my boat, please can I have it back?’ ” he said.

“Rather than clogging up warehouses costing us half a million a year, let’s sell them off to raise money to charities fighting human trafficking or give them to the RNLI,” he suggested.

Under the much-vaunted new Nationality and Borders Bill, which is currently being considered by Parliament, the restriction will no longer apply to “ships or other property”, allowing the government to sell them off to raise money or donate them to organisations such as the Sea Cadets.

The source said that the money could also go to “recouping the costs of running the asylum system”, which has skyrocketed to over £1 billion a year.

A Home Office official said: “Any boats that may be used as evidence to prosecute vile people-smugglers are stored as investigations continue.

“Current legislation also obliges us to keep items for a short period in case an owner wishes to claim them.

“New laws in the Nationality and Borders Bill will enable us to dispose of vessels much quicker or where suitable donate them to worthy causes in the UK.”

So far this year, over 10,500 illegal migrants have travelled across the English Channel from France in rubber dinghies. Despite having five months left in the year, the total has already far surpassed last year’s record-setting 8,410 illegal boat migrants.

Over the past months, people-smuggling gangs in France have begun deploying much larger boats, some as long as eleven meters (36 feet) which can hold up to 70 people, raising concerns that the unseaworthy vessels may lead to more loss of life in the English Channel.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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