Smugglers Review: Border Battle

SMUGGLERS: Tuesday 7th April, ITV1, 9pm

When you think of smuggling, maybe the image of a wooden legged, eye-patched pirate comes to mind, or maybe just Johnny Depp. However, ITV’s Smugglers is a proactive and stimulating exhibition of the UK Border Agency’s (UKBA) fight against criminal smuggling of drugs and tobacco, which is masterminded by organised international crime groups.

ITV’s new series tracks the different sections of the UKBA from key smuggling ports such as Dover and Harwich, to the sea where UKBA boats are in hot pursuit of ships containing illicit substances. The action is tense and along with the soundtrack that sounds like it should accompany Gladiator, this documentary is truly gripping and revelatory.

Smugglers goes deeper than to just look at how the UKBA operates, it also explores the psychology of some of the criminals, citing financial difficulties and an ignorance to the reality of their actions as motives for their crooked ways. Often presented as a gamble, smuggling is a game of high risk, but an even higher reward.

Not only is smuggling exposed at the level of sophisticated and organised crime, but the trafficking of tobacco is shown to be carried out by holiday makers who take part in the game of ‘low risk, high gain’. This ‘close to home’ feel gives Smugglers its aura of tension knowing that someone next to you on the way back from Tenerife, may be tobacco-running.

As if that wasn’t enough, the documentary drives home the point that illegal smuggling affects everyone, as it highlights just how the trade impacts the economy by taking away revenue from tax, thus pushing other levies up. Entertaining and eye opening, Smugglers is definitely one to watch.