UK Border Force officers patrol French beaches with local police for first time | Politics News

UK Border Force officers have joined patrols on French shores for the first time to stem the flow of migrants crossing the Channel.

The first joint patrol is believed to have taken place just before Christmas after months of talks between British and French officials.

The collaboration aims to provide UK officers with greater real-time intelligence on people-smuggling activities, tactics and migrant movements.

During French patrols, however, UK officers are only “observers”, meaning they will have no right to exercise powers such as arresting anyone for criminal activity.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our work with the French to tackle the unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings is vital and we are committed to building on our close cooperation to date.

“The new agreement will significantly increase the number of French gendarmes patrolling the coasts of northern France and ensure that UK and French officers work together to stop people smugglers.”

A record 45,728 people crossed the English Channel. According to a Sky News analysis, the number of people traveling to the UK on small boats in 2022 is up 60 per cent on last year.

More on migrant crossings

The dangers of traveling were painfully brought into the spotlight last month when Four people lost their lives when the boat overturned in the freezing water.

Over the past year, politicians have made several attempts to get a grip on the migrant crisis during a tumultuous period that has included three prime ministers and three home secretaries.

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Since the deal was signed by his predecessor Priti Patel in April, 40,460 migrants have crossed the Channel to Britain.

Human rights campaigners, charities and opposition parties have condemned the plan as inhumane and will not act as a deterrent.

Prime Minister Rishi Singh promised to introduce legislation in 2023 to make it “unequivocally clear that if you enter the UK illegally, you should not be able to stay here”.

However, there is concern About the lack of safe and legal alternatives Preventing people from traveling in small boats.

The number of migrants crossing the Channel has steadily increased since 2018, when 299 people were detected. According to the Home Office, 1,843 crossings were recorded in 2019 and 8,466 in 2020.

August last year was the highest month on record for crossings when 8,631 people arrived in the UK. On August 22, a record 1,295 migrants traveled on 27 boats in a single day.

A wrecked inflatable dinghy lies on the beach at Sangate near Calais.
Image:
A wrecked inflatable dinghy lies on the beach at Sangate near Calais.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvonne Cooper accused the Conservatives of “failing to get a grip” on the Channel crossing and making matters worse.

Responding to the latest figures, he said: “Successive Home Secretaries have prioritized rhetoric and maneuvering over the hard work needed to tackle this problem.

“They have completely failed to tackle criminal gangs and their new legislation has made matters worse by putting more lives at risk on dangerous boats and delaying refugees.”

Despite the growing numbers, UK small boat arrivals are small compared to the number of people arriving in Europe.

According to figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at least 154,290 people arrived in Europe by land and sea via the Mediterranean Sea in 2022.



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