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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 March 2005, 17:02 GMT 18:02 UK
Who guards the UK's borders?
The Conservatives are proposing a new border police for Britain. But who does this job now?


Several parts of the police are involved with border control.

Police comb a beach in Scotland
Most of the coast is looked after by local police forces

There are seven ports in England and Wales with their own port police: Bristol, Tees and Hartlepool, Dover, Felixstowe, Falmouth, Liverpool, Tilbury.

Ports police are in the port 24 hours a day and take care of criminality and security of the ports.

Special branch officers from local forces attend ports with passenger ferries and will assist the ports police with any arrests.

They are also responsible for acting on intelligence connected with terrorism.

Outside of the major ports the coastline is protected by local police forces.


HM Customs and Excise has officers based at all points of entry into the UK.

They also have mobile teams and fast boats guarding the coastline away from the major ports during the day and at night.

They are charged with preventing banned goods - including firearms, drugs and child pornography - from entering the country.

They have sniffer dogs trained to find drugs, large sums of money, tobacco, meat and meat products, firearms and ammunition, hidden inside vehicles, containers, luggage and on people.


The Immigration and Nationality Directorate is responsible for monitoring who is coming in and out of the country.

Their officers are charged with stopping illegal and clandestine immigration - to spot people travelling on forged passports, or people without a correct visa.

All immigration officers at ports are trained in forgery detection techniques.

There are also immigration officers based in France and Belgium.


The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has no crime-fighting remit.

Coastguards have no crimefighting function

Instead it deals with shipping matters such as inspection and registration of ships, rescue operations and dealing with pollution and spillages.

For this end, the MCA boasts its own fleet of helicopters and tugs, as well as being able to call on the services of RNLI lifeboats and RAF helicopters where necessary.

The agency uses 999 services, maritime radio and automated distress alerting equipment to keep informed.


As part of the Department for Transport, the Transport Security Directorate (Transec) is responsible for ensuring security measures at seaports and airports are being implemented properly.

For example, Transec inspectors will visit an airport, sometimes unannounced, and check that all passengers' luggage is being screened properly.

Transec also advises ministers on transport security policy.

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