SECURITY at the Port of Poole has come under the spotlight after eight illegal immigrants, including two children, were caught trying to enter the UK.

Border Force officers detected four Albanian men and two minors on Sunday.

Meanwhile, two men - who claimed to be from Iran - were detained the previous weekend.All eight were discovered hidden in the back of unaccompanied lorry trailers.

The find has reignited concerns over security at Poole, with Dorset Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill calling for the government to make a commitment to beef-up border defences at smaller ports.

“With the current terrorist threat, small port security should not be an afterthought,” said Mr Underhill.

“Whilst I welcome the fact some people have been caught on this side of the Channel, the big unknown is how many get through? And how many that get through could be terrorists or linked to terrorism?”

The Home Office confirmed the two men, who presented themselves as Iranian, are currently detained pending their removal from the UK.

The four Albanian men have also been detained pending removal from the country, whereas the two minors taken into custody with them are currently in the care of social services. In both cases the men were discovered during Border Force searches of trailers that had arrived by ferry from Bilbao.

Mr Underhill said: “I have been raising the issue of small port security with the Home Secretary for over a year now and we’ve seen little government action to increase the protection of our borders.

“The Home Office argue resources are being deployed in an intelligence led approach which would be fine, if there were resources to deploy in the first place. We have three cutters patrolling thousands of miles of British coastline, the French have 40. The new RIBs ordered this summer are late to arrive and unfit for mid channel work. “

Dorset Police confirmed they were aware of the Border Force operation, and that they assisted.

Mr Underhill wants government to improve existing security measures, to ensure adequate resources are available to monitor threats. He added: “Unless we act now, the effects of having poor or insufficient security on our coastal borders could be disastrous.”

“We live in dangerous times and we are only as strong as our weakest link. It is quite clear that small ports are the weakest link.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Border Force operates robust controls across UK ports to prevent illegal entry to the country. Using the latest detection technology Border Force works with port operators and local and national law enforcement to conduct rigorous checks on lorries, trailers, containers and other vehicles on a targeted basis.”

Earlier this month the Echo reported that armed French sea marshals had been deployed on Brittany Ferries’ Barfleur as part of an ongoing mission to deter terrorist attacks.

The ferry company confirmed seven marshals were dropped by helicopter during the pre-scheduled operation, which took place in international waters as the Barfleur sailed from Poole to Cherbourg.