Should everyone have to be able to prove their identity when they get a ferry to the Isle of Man?
That’s what the public is now being asked in a consultation exercise that was launched today.
The Department of Home Affairs is inviting feedback on the possibility of introducing border identity checks for people travelling to and from the Isle of Man by sea.
Identity measures at sea ports are being considered as a way of enhancing the safety of the Isle of Man and its residents.
The department says it believes that a requirement for people to verify their identity before travelling by sea would help to combat crime.
The Chief Constable’s annual report for 2014-15 highlighted the vulnerability of our borders as the biggest threat to national security.
I share the Chief Constable’s concern that taking no action could leave the island vulnerable to drug smuggling, financial crime and the export of stolen goodsJuan Watterson MHK
The report said action was needed to prevent the island being seen as a soft target by criminals who travel under a false name to commit offences such as drug smuggling and money laundering.
People entering and leaving the island via sea ports are currently not required to produce photographic identification. The public consultation is seeking the views of individuals and businesses on whether this needs to change to aid the detection of criminal activity.
The proposal would require people travelling by sea to show one of 14 valid forms of identification – such as a driving licence, passport or bus pass – when checking in.
This would have an impact on ferry boarding times and result in a need for additional staff and new facilities for foot passengers and vehicle drivers waiting to pass through the border checks.
Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson MHK said: ‘I recognise that the possibility of introducing legislation to require identity checks at harbours is a contentious issue.
‘It is essential to ensure we balance the need for enhanced border identity measures alongside any inconvenience to the travelling public and additional cost for our ferry operators.
‘However, I share the Chief Constable’s concern that taking no action could leave the island vulnerable to drug smuggling, financial crime and the export of stolen goods.’
He added: ‘Public safety is our primary concern.
‘We need to at least consider and debate whether ID checks should be put in place to protect our Island and its people. I want to hear the views of residents and the business community so that the Department can make an informed decision on whether or not to take this proposal forward.’
The consultation document is available to view on the government website.
Written responses should be sent to Karl Cubbon, Legislation and Policy Officer, Chief Executive’s Office, Department of Home Affairs Headquarters, Tromode Road, Douglas, IM2 5PA, or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
The deadline for submissions is February 12.