NEWS

Britons Charged After Albanians Rescued From Sinking Dinghy Off Kent Coast

The Albanians are being held by the Home Office, pending consideration of their cases.

30/05/2016 15:52

Two Britons have been charged with people smuggling after a boat carrying 18 Albanians across the English Channel started to sink off the Kent coast.

The coastguard was called at around 11.40pm on Saturday when a a rigid-hulled inflatable boat got into trouble near Dymchurch.

Twenty people, 18 of whom were Albanian, including two children, were rescued from it.

The two Britons arrested in connection with the incident have been named.

They are Mark Stribling, 35, from Farningham, and Robert Stilwell, 33, from Dartford.

Both were charged with assisting people's illegal entry to the UK.

They appeared at Medway Magistrates' Court on Monday and were remanded in custody to appear at crown court in four weeks.

The Albanians have been detained by the Home Office, pending consideration of their cases.

The incident raised fears migrants try to cross the channel by boat could lead to repeats of the drownings that have taken place in the Mediterranean, as hundreds of thousands flee to Europe amid the migration crisis.

Bernard Barron, president of the French coastguard, told Sky News: "It's starting to become a very similar situation to that seen in the Mediterranean and my biggest fear is that the same kind of tragedies we see in Greece or Italy will start to repeat in the Channel."

After the incident, the former head of the Royal Navy said our borders are at risk from terrorists and human traffickers because of the lack of boats that patrol UK waters.

Tim Ireland/PA Archive
Lord West said we were taking a 'calculated risk' with how undefended we were leaving our borders

Lord West told The Daily Mail: "We are taking a calculated risk with our own territorial waters.

"Already we have seen these illegal immigrants and I don't believe there aren't clever traffickers using the smaller ports to send them and I'm sure terrorists are aware of the route too.

""We need to get a grip on this. We are taking a gamble that nothing will ever happen in our seas and that is a risky view to take given the dangerous world we are in."

There are only three Border Force vessels patrolling 7,700 miles of British coastline following the deployment of one to the Aegean Sea to help with the migrant crisis and after aerial surveillance of Britain's shores was scrapped in January.

Civilian vessel VOS Grace was sent to the Mediterranean last November.

Two Border Force cutters, HMC Protector and HMC Seeker, were deployed to the Mediterranean along with the Royal Navy ship HMS Bulwark last May.

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