Over £700 million to secure new fleet of coastal patrol ships and protection for UK borders

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak. Source: HM Treasury

A NEW FLEET of state-of-the art patrol boats, known as ‘cutters’, will be announced by the Chancellor next week as part of a £703 million package to protect the UK border.

At Wednesday’s Budget and Spending Review, Rishi Sunak will announce £74 million to upgrade the existing fleet of ageing, 20-year-old Border Force patrol vessels that man British shores.

They will be replaced with a new fleet of 11 cutting-edge more fuel-efficient vessels with newer engines that emit less carbon, improving Border Force’s ability to tackle serious and organised crime, the smuggling of illicit goods and illegal migration.

As part of the package, more than £628 million will be invested in the UK’s Future Borders and Immigration System programme to modernise and digitalise the border – improving waiting times, streamline border entry and visa process and bolster security. 

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said:

“Protecting our borders and making it easier for us all to travel to and from our great nation is at the heart of our ambitions as a government.

“We’re investing billions of pounds to safeguard our shores, crackdown on crime and create a world-leading border.”

Launching in 2023, new Electronic Travel Authorisations allow people to visit the UK for reasons, such as tourism without requiring a visa, which will in turn make the UK more attractive as a tourist destination and be the best place in the world to start, grow and invest in a business.

They will also improve waiting times when crossing the border and enable UK Border Force to focus its resource on areas such as enforcing customs rules and combatting crime.

The digital by default system will mean we can now count who is coming in and out of the country and a US-style Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) will be introduced to make the border more secure.

ETAs will be fully in place by the end of 2025 and will enable the Government to decide at an earlier stage whether individuals should be allowed to travel to the UK.

Moving to a fully digital system will replace different physical documents with a single digital product, accessible to the individual via a secure online service at any point in their journey.

Now that we have left the EU, the Spending Review will also provide funding for over 1,000 Border Force officers to deliver customs and transit checks for goods and support our status as an independent trading nation.

In 2020, there were around 8,500 arrivals in small boats to the UK. The new fleet will continue to work round-the-clock 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to continue to protect our nation.

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  1. More border force cutters are indeed needed and this is welcomed. In the same line we need more OPVs than are being built. We do not need a Type 26 to deal with immigrants, pirates, and other small maritime policing matters. The more cutters and OPVs we have we can leave the front line navy to front line duties.

  2. Will the boats stop illegal immigrants landing ? Or will they be picking up the illegal immigrants and bringing them to shore quicker ? France will not accept any illegal immigrants back , no matter how much money you throw at them .Do we just let them float into the shipping lanes then rescue them or do we sink their vessels and kill them ?

  3. Whar’s the point? Our laws may secure our borders against criminal activities like drug smuggling and organised crime, but preventing migrants from illegal entry can’t wait till 2025. Our 2021existing legal and judicial system is not fit for purpose. Prevention and detection are OK but punishment and deportation is more a priority.


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