RYA challenges ‘stop and search’ powers of cutters

Royal Yachting Association acts after a number of its members complained of being stopped and searched in UK waters by Government patrol craft

The RYA has challenged the Government to clarify the powers of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and its fleet of five cutters after several of its members complained they had been victims of ‘stop and search’ raids at sea.

The UKBA, which is responsible for border protection and controlling migration, recently took over some customs responsibilities from HM Revenue & Customs, including control of these five fast patrol vessels.

Gus Lewis, the RYA’s legal and government affairs manager, said: “We are receiving an increasing number of such [stop and search] reports from members of the boating public who are worried about the intimidating demeanour of the UKBA cutter crews and boarding parties.

“We can see no reason why UKBA personnel cannot perform their duties in a way that does not imply that the public is doing or has done something that is against the law.”

The RYA also claimed that cutter crews have been demanding proof of identification from boaters in UK waters and other information relating to their journey, which boaters are not obliged to carry.

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“We have approached the Minister to challenge the authority of these crews to demand such information from yachtsmen, we are now awaiting a response,” Lewis added.