The legal deadline for an answer to our query about UK yacht boardings has passed and our emails go unanswered
I doubt the BBC political comedy ‘The Thick of It’ is all that far-fetched.
On 24 September I asked the Home Office for Freedom of Information data on the number of stop and searches on leisure craft within UK waters in the last years, and how often skippers had been asked for – or they had been presented with – ID or documentation.
The query followed a number of complaints to the RYA by yachtsmen boarded this year while coasting and asked for ID and papers, which of course we don’t have to have or carry.
The worry is that if no distinction and no practical exception is made for private boatowners, compulsory paperwork and registration (and taxation, you can be sure) will eventually arrive by the back door.
The original email got a replybot response but the 20 working day deadline public bodies have to furnish data passed with no answer.
I’ve emailed again twice, made several phone calls to the Home Office press office but to date I have not had a reply to the FOI request.
No numbers, no reason why the numbers haven’t been provided, no agreement to an extension (a legal requirement).
Taking a parallel track I’ve been talking to the Home Office press office, who I suspect deliberately tried to sidetrack me by putting it to me that my query was really about engagement over the rollout of EBorders, the electronic checkout scheme for yachts going foreign.
Well it’s not, though if you have a concern about that you can ask them when they attend the London Boat Show.
I have been assured verbally that nothing has changed and that presenting ID or paperwork while coasting is not compulsory and we are not obliged to produce it if asked. So I’ve requested that in writing but I’ve not had anything yet.
It was also suggested I speak to the head of the Border Force. All I’ve asked for is a brief chat by phone but apparently ‘his diary is rammed until the end of November.’
And to think that they work for us…