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UK-France migrant deal pledges 40% boost in officers on beach patrol

The UK has negotiated a 40% increase in the number of officers patrolling beaches in northern France as part of a deal to tackle the migrant crisis – but charities say any attempt to solve the problem that ignores the causes will fail will work.

British staff will also be in French control rooms for the first time to curb dangerous small boat crossings as the number of people who have made the dangerous journey to the UK so far this year surpassed 40,000.

Asylum seekers have been crossing the English Channel in overcrowded small boats for years.  library picture, submitted,
Asylum seekers have been crossing the English Channel in overcrowded small boats for years. library picture, submitted,

This compares to 28,526 for the whole of 2021.

The deal also comes close to the first anniversary of the deaths of 27 asylum seekers when their inflatable boat capsized off Calais on November 24, 2021.

Other measures signed in Paris include an investment in CCTV and dog detection teams to keep an eye on ports and plans to better equip officers with drones and night vision capabilities.

Meanwhile, Britain and France have agreed to intensify cooperation on this issue with European partners, with a meeting of the neighboring countries’ “Calais Group” to be arranged as soon as possible.

A new task force will also be set up to address the “recent surge of Albanians and organized crime groups exploiting illegal migration routes” into western Europe, 10 Downing Street said.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.  Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Elsewhere, joint British-French analysis teams will seek to encourage information-sharing.

Finally, the deal promises investments in French reception and deportation centers for migrants prevented from crossing to Britain.

The agreement was signed this morning (Monday) by Home Secretary Suella Braverman and French Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin.

Rishi Sunak said the move would help his efforts “to get a grip on illegal migration” and he was “confident” the numbers would fall over time.

Downing Street said the 40 per cent increase in the number of officers patrolling beaches in northern France would “increase early detection” while the presence of British staff in French control rooms would improve understanding of the “threat” at hand and help to inform assignments.

“This will not be solved by enforcement alone…”

Port surveillance is to be stepped up to deal with migrants attempting to enter the UK by lorry.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, claimed the agreement fails to address the factors that mean people are putting themselves at risk by trying to reach Britain first – and will therefore “do little to make the crossings.” to end”.

He said: “The government needs to take a more comprehensive approach and create an orderly, fair and humane asylum system that recognizes that the vast majority of those making a dangerous journey are refugees fleeing for their lives.”

“It must face the fact that this is a global problem that cannot be solved through enforcement action alone.”

Since 2018, asylum seekers have tended to cross the English Channel to England in small boats, but the number of people arriving throughout the year was just 299, rising to 1,843 in 2019, 8,466 in 2020 to over 40,000 in 2022 the year before is even finished.

Last Saturday 972 arrived in 22 small vehicles.

Those rescued would first land on the Western Jet Foil in Dover, which suffered a petrol bomb attack on October 30 this year, again highlighting the whole problem.

Other asylum seekers have ended up alone in places like Shakespeare Beach in Dover, Kingsdown near Deal and Dingeness in Romney Marsh.

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