MacAskill to quiz Border Agency chiefs over ferry port funding cuts

The Scottish justice secretary will today raise concerns about funding for security at ports with the UK Border Agency.

Kenny MacAskill will by joined by Northern Ireland justice minister David Ford, as well as police from both countries, for talks with the agency. It follows a decision by the agency last year to remove funding for three police officers who tackled illegal immigration at Stranraer.

Mr MacAskill said: “The security of our sea crossings is vital and the Scottish Government takes the policing of our borders and ports very seriously.

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“I want to commend police on both sides of the water for all of their hard work ensuring our increasingly busy ports are secure.

“However, I am keen to ensure that following the withdrawal of UKBA support in Stranraer, police are not put under additional pressure due to routes between Northern Ireland and Scotland being exploited. I have raised my concerns with Home Office ministers in the past and will continue to do so.

“I am heartened that all partners will continue to work together to keep the situation under review and ensure operations are properly co-ordinated in the wake of this decision.”

Mr MacAskill will take part in the talks at Loch Ryan Port, near Stranraer.

As well as police funding, the government ministers will tour new port facilities and discuss opportunities for greater collaboration between forensic laboratories in Scotland and Northern Ireland.