Isle of Man Examiner letters, October 13, 2015

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Retired police could help

I read with interest the article concerning the Home Affairs Minister’s proposal of forcing the travelling public, especially those using the ferry, of having passport control prior to embarkation, all this being apparently in the interests of crime prevention.

If implemented, to use the old adage, it would be another case of the ‘minority spoiling it for the majority’.

Moreover, I am perplexed as to whether this procedure is going to be mandatory and who is going to be carrying out the checking of the passports.

If any offence is disclosed who again is going to progress the investigation? It certainly sounds like a job for the police, or failing this a member of a recognised border control unit armed with suitable legal powers to combat the situation.

At the time of writing on checking the UK security service website, the threat status is described as ‘severe’ with the likelihood of a terrorist attack being imminent.

Locally speaking, and God forbid any terrorist act be perpetrated on this isle, questions would have to be asked in relation to the actions (or lack thereof) of the Home Affairs Minister and Chief Constable on how such a situation was allowed to materialise.

Their respective positions would therefore become untenable with expected resignations to follow!

It is public knowledge that some years ago a cell of terrorists were monitored by the security services training in the Lake District, an area which is not that far away from our shores.

The national media from time to time also makes mention of incidents whereby yachts and other pleasure craft have been intercepted in and around the Irish Sea ports carrying differing contraband.

As a former police officer with considerable special branch port unit experience relation to the era of the 1970s/1980s when the Irish Troubles were then prevailing, a specialist and dedicated unit of police personnel acted as ‘sentinels’ in respect of the island’s homeland security and the implementation of the provisions of the then Prevention of Terrorism Act.

In addition to this facet of police work, criminal offences such as theft, burglary, drugs and inherent intelligence relating thereto were also detected and processed.

Lamentably, internal politics played a part in the demise of the unit at that time, especially those who had a CID background and looked down on special branch officers. Consequently, the potential of the unit in an intelligence-gathering role was never maximised to its full potential.

Latterly, as a regular traveller myself by boat and plane, I have only ever seen any police officers in action at the pier and I would suspect this was an intelligence-led operation. I cannot comment on whether the police action at the time was successful.

In the old days every commercial boat and place was examined with regards to its passengers’ contact to and from the island.

Notably, officers were at liberty to make spot checks which at times were very successful, not only from a detection perspective but from an intelligence sphere.

A number of criminals who were wanted on warrant in the UK were also successfully apprehended, such action circumventing any potential criminality to be committed on the island subsequently.

Within their remit movement of fishing vessels and Soviet bloc mercantile were also monitored. All this type of security was carried out with the minimum of inconvenience to the travelling public at large by a relative small nucleus of police personnel.

I am led to believe that in relation to the financial crime unit, some officers who on reaching the prescribed retirement age in their police service have been re-engaged for their expertise but now in a civilian capacity.

Perhaps the Home Affairs Minister should give favourable consideration to adopting such a policy to the ‘recycling’ of expertise attributed to former special branch port unit officers.

Perhaph it would, in effect, be a ‘Dad’s Army’ but I am sure it would be one that would produce results at no great cost!

I note the headline associated with the Chief Constable’s report and I quote ‘Probe into spate of burglaries shows lack of evidence in the force’ (Manx Independent, last week). In addition, the Chief Constable has been quoted in how lacking in resilience the constabulary could easily become when extraordinary demands occur.

The island’s topography provides a natural boundary to its security which should be enhanced internally to such an extent that it is ‘fit for purpose’ for its citizens to continue to enjoy its unique lifestyle.

The security infrastructure should be such that it is not reliant solely on input from other police forces on the adjacent isle, which can easily be compromised by their own austerity measures.

This type of input and intelligence should be construed as ‘ancillary’ to that manufactured by the island’s own security measures.

Perhaps the Home Affairs Minister should take a step back in time for his review to insure the island’s security in the future.

CM Quirk, Onchan

Editor’s note: Our report in the Manx Independent made it clear that a form of ID might be required when getting on to the ferry in future. While we used a passport as a possible form of that, there was no suggestion that passport control would be set up at the Sea Terminal.

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Why we have to protect borders

I congratulate Juan Watterson MHK, Home Affairs Minister, for having the common sense to introduce new measures for having everyone to produce their passport before being allowed to board the Isle of Man ferries (hopefully airlines as well).

In this day and age we must revert back to protecting our borders, otherwise we could be leaving ourselves wide open to would-be terrorists, thieves and drug dealers.

Personally, I would think everyone should own either a passport or an identity card.

In other countries it is common policy to be stopped by the police and have to show your passport on the spot.

I think Mr Watterson’s idea is long overdue and anyone who opposes the idea is obviously not streetwise and not fully aware of life beyond the island.

Well done, Mr Watterson. I back your idea 100 per cent.

Millie Blenkinsop-French, Buck’s Road, Douglas

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Remembering our forces

I am writing as chairman of the Isle of Man Armed Forces Day Committee to thank you for the excellent press coverage given to this year’s event at the end of June, especially the centre page spread.

AFD is, of course, one of our island national days and a very special occasion for our veterans and our serving personnel.

Sadly the number of World War Two veterans is now very small and the former National Service veterans, who form the considerable majority of the veterans on the island, are also beginning to fade.

The creation of the new Reserve Forces is just in time to start handing over the reins from we geriatrics and the format will probably change as the balance of those involved changes.

In the circumstances, it was wonderful to see 120 old veterans marching together with another 20 travelling with our classic cars, and 40 serving personnel in this year’s parade. The Villa Marina was, as always, packed for the service which followed.

Sunday, June 26, 2016 will be our 10th big day and I hope that you will be able support us in what will be an extra special occasion.

You might also like to note that 2016 is the 300th anniversary of the Royal Artillery in which so many Manxmen have served over the years.

The regiment has honoured the island by making Tynwald Day one of its commemorative events and will be providing both the guard of honour and the band. I think that there will be plenty of stories in this.

Norman Butler, Chairman, Armed Forces Day Committee

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I was treated so well at Noble’s

I recently had the misfortune of falling ill and was admitted to A and E at Noble’s Hospital.

Within 15 minutes of admittance began a series of tests to identify the problem.

I was admitted to Ward 2 and what followed was the best care, kindness, consideration and professionalism.

I write this letter thanking everyone involved in taking care of me.

Each has to speak as they find and I found my experience in Noble’s Hospital extremely satisfying and I would like to thank all the doctors, nurses and all the staff for their care and consideration.

June Commins, Onchan

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We cannot take these refugees

I fully endorse the whole content of the letter ‘Why try to come to Europe’ by J Craige in last week’s Isle of Man Examiner.

I cannot stress the importance to this lovely island and its people if we accept any of these refugees.

The king of the Arab nation [Saudi Arabia] will not accept even one because he said it would destablilise his country and run the risk of terrorism.

How quickly ‘they’ would destabilise our lovely island.

This very serious situation that has arisen has nothing to do with racism. We must face it.

Robert Muir, Sulby

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