Border Security: the Weakest Link

Despite "heartbeat sensors, CO2 probes to detect exhaled breath and "passive millimetre wave" scanners which can 'see through vehicles," it's easy to sneak into the UK from Calais due to inadequate fencing.

Posted on March 19, 2008 at 1:00 PM • 28 Comments

Comments

JokerMarch 19, 2008 2:38 PM

Whoa, wait, you mean, people who want to beat our security will naturally seek out and attempt to compromise the weakest point in our defenses? Damn it, don't they know they're supposed to try to sneak through the checkpoints, with the guards and scanners and intimidating imagery!?

SeanMarch 19, 2008 2:46 PM

So, will Boeing's "Eye O' Sauron" system designed for the Mexican border fail for the same reasons?

WernerMarch 19, 2008 3:12 PM

Heck here in South Africa illegals would probably love those Saurons. They'd steal them and sell the expensive bits to give them a bit of cash, just until they can find something to steal in SA itself!

AnonymousMarch 19, 2008 3:20 PM

Why not just talk to the folks at Area 51? They've been successful at keeping everyone out for years -- and the eye-o-suaron looks a lot like the towers they have in place...

AnonymousMarch 19, 2008 3:42 PM

That spam is quite interesting. The first one almost fooled me as a human. Wow.

Anonymous CowardMarch 19, 2008 3:50 PM

Darnnit Bruce, we're getting spammed.

As for this border security non-sense... tell the French to stop exporting their illegals to the UK... What's wrong with France anyway...Poodles? the French? The question we should be asking is "what is France doing to make the illegals flee to the UK?" Here in the US, Latin Americans illegally enter the US because they are seeking a better place to live and work... I say again, what's wrong with France? Besides, there are easier ways of getting to the UK, heck Jeremy Clarkson crossed the channel in his Toyboata.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyIw1kGJxak

MarcusMarch 19, 2008 3:52 PM

It says a lot about the quality of comments on the internet when random spam passes for human. YouTube is particularly bad, with the lowest-brow comments (un)imaginble.

LunkheadMarch 19, 2008 4:08 PM

So, the reason for the USA's problems along its southern border is because of the Mexican governments failure to adequately prevent people from leaving? Or is the issue that oceans no longer protect the British Isles anymore?

Isn't this a bit like New Mexicans complaining about all the people sneaking in from El Paso? Maybe New Mexico should demand U.S. passports from everyone entering into New Mexico?

Apart from the political propaganda attack on Labour I don't quite get the point here.

alanMarch 19, 2008 5:08 PM

Maybe they just need to rebuild Hadrian's Wall in the English Channel. (And when is the English Channel going to pay it's TV tax?)

billswiftMarch 19, 2008 7:06 PM

I am getting tired of all the discussion, here and in other sites, about keeping people out of a country. The borders are just too long and people are too ingenious at getting what they want. The Soviet Union couldn't keep people in or out; do the people in the "Western Democracies" really want to become part of totalitarian nations, or more likely have they never really thought about it, just repeated soundbites from the media.

Have at thee, varletMarch 19, 2008 7:29 PM

Uv COURSE it is eezee to get eento England from Calais due to inadequate fencing, you silly Eenglish kanigitt!

BahggyMarch 19, 2008 8:29 PM

Of course, the UK government isn't telling us that it *wants* the illegal immigrants. They provide vital services. They pay rent to slum landlords thus shoring up a flailing property market and they do all the crappy jobs no-one else would want to do - for below minimum wage.

GordonSMarch 20, 2008 2:03 AM

@Lunkhead

I think you've got the wrong idea here.

Another way to look at it is this: what is France doing that makes illegal immigrants want to leave France and head for the UK?

bobMarch 20, 2008 6:45 AM

And just what is a "shadow home secretary" anyway? Does that mean he fights UFOs as part of a covert british facility under a movie studio?

That must be why they picked him to interview about illegal aliens.

AnonymousMarch 20, 2008 7:38 AM

@GordonS

easy answer..
You don't have ID cards ...

The regular foreigner simply can't be asked an ID card inside your territory.

In France, the first thing they do is ask for that ID.
For whatever the cause, if you do not have an ID card, the french cops would take you to the police station and if you are an illegal immigrant then that is where the problems start.

This situation is very unlikely to happen in UK. The probability of an average foreigner being checked by the police in the street for no reason is almost negligeable compared to countries where citizens have IDs.
The very nature of ID gives a reason for the citizen to be checked: that is the trap.

This will change for UK as I really get the feeling you guys will have to carry your ID cards at all time in a very near future.

Personnally I think UK is one of the most (if not the most) free country in the world because of their lack of ID. When I use to live in France (paris suburbs), I was sometimes checked twice a day near my school for my papers and checked if I had any drugs and/or weapons, this just because of my way of looking. Can this happen in UK? I'm sure it does but at a negligeable rate than the french one.

This is the reason why UK is a paradise for illegal immigrants. Once inside, they hardly can be thrown out afterwards.

AnonymousMarch 20, 2008 7:57 AM

@Sean

"Eye O' Sauron" ... Thats just awesome.

@ Anonymous at March 20, 2008 07:38 AM

I am a foreigner in Austria and I have been here for 2 years now. I have never been ask for a ID by the police once in anywhere in the EU.

I have friends who were over stayers by a large margin (many years in several different EU countries) . The police where very nice about it when sent round by the tax department and only ask them to leave, but never came back to check if they did. One is still here... 5 years later... None of these folk are in the UK.

Julie SmithMarch 20, 2008 8:09 AM

@anonymous in Austria

Let me guess, you're probably white and so police never thought of you as suspicious...

AnonymousMarch 20, 2008 8:13 AM

@anon

I was trying to draw a comparison between UK and France by replying to a previous question.

I'm not generalizing to EU countries as your reply suggests I did.

I do not beleive Austria holds the biggest social EU problems (I'm sure they have some but totally different ponctual and way smaller) in terms of ID checks.

Some areas in Paris/London suburbs and some major towns (usually suburbs) from UK/France really are a threat to your own safety. That is why you have a proportional response by the state to try decriminalizing those areas.

bobMarch 20, 2008 8:17 AM

National ID (Real ID) as an issue is similar to gun control as an issue; its not about the guns, its about control. They dont care about illegal immigrants or terrorists, simply about governments being able to keep tabs on all their subjects at all times. After all 99.999% of the time the person whose ID is being checked is a valid citizen in a location where they are authorized to be, so the taxpayer is the person most impacted by it. Especially so since the illegal is more likely to not bother acquiring, or simply falsifying their documentation.

P.S. Surely SOMEBODY watched "UFO"... Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization (SHADO)...?

Flo-_March 20, 2008 10:52 AM

As a French man living very close to Calais, and knowing quite a few things about refugees and asylum seekers both in France (where I routinely do volunteer work with refugees and asylum seekers) and the UK (where I used to work for a contractor of the Refugee Council), I must say I am appalled at the level of comments on this article.

The UK is seen as a safe haven for refugees worldwide, thanks to a particular history of immigration laws. This is rapidly changing however.
Continental Europe countries, on the other hand, and France in particular, have very tough immigration laws, leading to non-sensical and inhumane situations (such as a 3 month old baby under administrative arrest for 48 hours +, without any basic medical care, in a police station corridor, that I witnessed myself, and many others).

Anti-riot police are massively (in the hundreds) deployed along french coast to try to refrain migrants for crossing the channel. These police forces aren't educated for this kind of operations and proceed as they proceed with violent protesters: let's just say that tear gas is their weapon of choice, I would even say *tool* of choice (tear-gasing clothes, food and shelter alike...). Private guards and border patrol officers try to secure the inside of Calais port but failed to do it: the task is daunting.

Anyway, that's a political issue rather than a technical one and this is not the subject of this blog.

On the security side of things, I am amazed that British discover that fencing is bad around Calais' port: it's even weaker in Boulogne or Duinkerk...

Technically, it means securing dozens of square kilometers from highly motivated individuals (they have left everything behind and think that what lies ahead of them, Bristh Isles, is where their future is. They can *see* it, they see Dover cliffs in daylight, and Dover's streetlights at night).

You just *cannot* fully secure something from a motivated group or individual. Give me a tank and I'll rob any bank. Give me a better life prospect and I'll cross the channel, whatever the cost...


gregMarch 20, 2008 11:16 AM

@Julie Smith

I am, but my wife and daughter are not and have the same story to tell.

StevieMarch 21, 2008 1:59 AM

Good point Flo. The negation of Britain's historic tolerance towards migrants and refugees is quite deliberate. The British media in particular has succeeded in making "illegal immigrants" of refugees and asylum seekers in the popular mind. Yet the fortress mentality they advocate is expensive, self-defeating and untenable.

The reality is that as the security measures become more sophisticated desperate people will be placed in more danger as they seek to enter the country in more dangerous ways. People smuggling is profitable for the smuggler and dangerous for its subjects. The death of over 70 Chinese people from asphyxiation in a sealed truck shows just how desperation can lead to tragedy.

Jonadab the Unsightly OneMarch 22, 2008 7:23 AM

The US/Mexico border is a fundamentally different thing. The Calais situation we're talking about is a single map point -- one end of a long tunnel, in fact. The fencing they're looking at would be very feasible and could be monitored by a few cameras and two guys in a security room, or maybe even by motion detectors and an alarm.

The US/Mexico border, on the other hand, is hundreds of miles long. Even if you could install parallel runs of eighty-foot razor-wire fence the entire length, the ongoing annual cost of monitoring or patroling it would run into at least ten figures. (And fencing is totally unreliable if you don't monitor it. Anybody can figure out some way to get past a fence if nobody's watching it.)

supersnailMarch 25, 2008 3:41 AM

The answer to illegal immigration is simple.

Impose large fines on anyone employing an illegal immagrant.


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