New UK-France agreement to tackle migrant crossings after thousands make journey this year | UK News


The UK and France have reached a new agreement to tackle migrants crossing the Channel with more officers patrolling beaches and “cutting edge” surveillance technology deployed, the Home Office has said.

More than 8,000 people have reached the UK after making the dangerous crossing on small boats this year as numbers have rocketed, latest figures show.

This is despite the home secretary’s vow in 2019 to make such journeys an “infrequent phenomenon”.

 Home Secretary Priti Patel
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Priti Patel has reached an agreement with the French interior minister on tackling migrant crossings

Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin have now signed an agreement in which they “reaffirmed their commitment to make this route unviable”.

The Home Office said the number of French officers patrolling beaches will double from 1 December – although it has not revealed how many officers this will be due to “operational sensitivities”.

The officers will patrol a 150km (93-mile) stretch of coastline regularly targeted by people smuggling networks to prevent “more dangerous and unnecessary crossings”, it added.

The home secretary and her French counterpart are also said to have agreed an “enhanced package of cutting edge surveillance technology – including drones, radar equipment, optronic binoculars and fixed cameras”.

A Home Office statement said: “The specialist equipment will allow the French to be more efficient in searching and clearing areas faster and help ensure officers are deployed in the right place at the right time, as a result increasing the number of migrants and facilitators detected and prevented from entering the water.”

The agreement also includes “steps to support migrants into appropriate accommodation in France” and measures to increase border security at ports in northern and western France, it added.

People thought to be migrants are pictured on a Border Force boat in Dover on Friday
Image:
People thought to be migrants are pictured on a Border Force boat in Dover on Friday

However the announcement was criticised by the director of a humanitarian charity who branded it an “extraordinary mark of failure” akin to “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic”.

Bella Sankey, from Detention Action, added: “No amount of massaging the numbers masks (the home secretary’s) refusal to take the sensible step of creating a safe and legal route to the UK from northern France, thereby preventing crossings and child deaths.

“Instead she throws taxpayers’ money away on more of the same measures that stand no chance of having a significant impact on this dangerous state of affairs.”

The new agreement on tackling migrant crossings comes a month after members of a Kurdish-Iranian family died when their boat capsized in the Channel.

Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammed Panahi, both 35, drowned alongside two of their children, six-year-old Armin and Anita, who was nine.

Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six. Pic: Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights
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Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, and Armin, six. Pic: Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights

A third child, Artin, who was just 15 months old, was said to be missing at sea but rescuers are no longer searching the waters.

More migrants arrived in Dover on Friday, with several boats believed to have made it across the Channel.

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‘I said please don’t go by boat’ before fatal trip

They reportedly included children and a woman who was seen being helped ashore by officials, apparently struggling to walk.

Temperatures at the Kent port hovered around 7C to 8C (45F to 46F).

Last week a fishing vessel with 69 people hidden on board has been intercepted by UK Border Force boats off the Norfolk coast and escorted into Harwich.

The migrants, all Albanian, were being questioned about alleged immigration offences.



Sky News