The UK Border Force and Police Scotland Border Policing Command are rolling out new defences against criminal activities on Scotland's western shores.

Police Scotland and the UK Border Force are working together on a new joint project to fight drug smuggling and human trafficking on thousands of miles of remote, jagged coastline in the west of Scotland.

Focussing on harbours and airfields, the joint unit reflects the structure of the UK Border Force and has already stopped light aircraft and fishing boats in an attempt to curb Schengen visa abuse.

The officer overseeing the new Border Policing Command said the unit will carry out Port Action Days, where they will board and examine vessels, speak to crew and carry out checks to ensure documents are in order.

Superintendent Ross Aitken, Head of Border Policing Command said: “Working together, applying our complementary powers and engaging with the ports, is intended to make Border Force and Border Police Command more effective at small ports across Scotland. It will build on existing links within the General Aviation and General Maritime sectors, improve intelligence gathering and allow us develop joint strategies to tackle threats to Scottish ports and the wider UK.

“The unit often works alongside other partners from HMRC, Maritime Coastguard Agency and the National Crime Agency to develop a coordinated operational response to any identified threats to Non-designated Ports.

“By working together, the unit and its partners can and will tackle issues such as terrorism, human trafficking, serious and organised crime and contribute to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults, whilst increasing public awareness through local engagement.”

An investigation by Police Scotland into a West Coast fishing company is reportedly ongoing after allegations that foreign crew were being held under slave-like conditions.

The move to create the new policing unit comes less than a year after Britain’s largest drugs bust uncovered £500m of cocaine in a tug boat off the coast of Aberdeen.

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