Lack Of Customs ‘Like Leaving The Door Open’ Says Scilly’s MP

border force shipScilly’s MP Andrew George, is pressing the UK Border Force to review its cover for the islands.

His call follows last month’s £20m seizure of cocaine from a yacht, which had been brought into St Mary’s by the lifeboat after it broke down in bad weather. The drugs were found on board after the Border Force towed the Windrose to Newlyn for a thorough search.

Agency staff haven’t confirmed whether they were watching the Dutch yachtsman, who had sailed from the Algarve and was heading for Falmouth.

But the MP says he has information that this seizure was more luck than judgement.

He says he raised concerns when the last government cut the numbers of customs officers and facilities around the coast to concentrate on the major ports and says people in the service have told him resources are currently stretched.

Scilly has been without a customs office since 2002, when the 300-year tradition of staffing a base here ended.

At the time islanders were concerned and around a quarter of the population signed a 500-signature petition calling for the retention of the customs officer role, last held here by David Wilbourne.

Andrew described it as “leaving the front door open” and a lot of people are justifiably worried about the issue, he says.

He doesn’t expect an office to reopen here but would like a staff base in Cornwall from which staff could visit Scilly to gain intelligence.