Channel crossings deal could see Border Force officers in French control rooms

British immigration officers could be stationed in French control rooms for the first time under a new deal to curb Channel crossings (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
British immigration officers could be stationed in French control rooms for the first time under a new deal to curb Channel crossings (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

British immigration officers could be stationed in French control rooms for the first time under a new deal to curb Channel crossings.

The Government said the fresh agreement between the UK and France, understood to be worth about £80 million, is in its final stages.

This is expected to allow Border Force officers to observe French operations co-ordinating beach searches for boats being launched into the Channel and hunts for people trafficking gangs.

The money – which the Daily Mail described as the largest sum ever handed by the UK taxpayer to France – will also pay for an increase in the 800 daily patrols that are currently carried out by French officers, as well as more surveillance equipment to detect boats before the enter the water, The Times reported.

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Rishi Sunak vowed to “grip this challenge of illegal migration” by working with European nations when he attended Cop27, adding that he had “renewed confidence and optimism”.

The Prime Minister and French president Emmanuel Macron embraced at the UN climate change conference in Egypt on Monday during their first face-to-face encounter since Mr Sunak entered Number 10.

Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride hailed a “fundamental shift” in the tone of relations between Britain and France as officials thrashed out the final details of the deal.

He told Sky News: “The mood music seems to be good at the moment.

“My understanding is we’re in the final stages of what could be an agreement, which would be very good news.

“I think there has been a fundamental shift in the tone between ourselves and the French.”

Almost 40,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year. As yet there have been no crossings in November as bad weather continues, leaving the provisional total for 2022 to date still standing at 39,913.

It comes as MPs sitting on the Commons Home Affairs Committee visited the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent after concerns were raised about overcrowding.

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick told the Commons on Monday that there had been a “significant reduction” in the number of people at the site and this was now “back below” its maximum capacity of 1,600 after more than 2,300 migrants were moved to other accommodation.

Earlier, an inquest heard the man suspected of firebombing another immigration facility last month died of asphyxiation. Andrew Leak was found dead at a nearby petrol station eight minutes after the terror attack at Western Jet Foil in Dover on October 30.

Meanwhile, Fenland District Council in Cambridgeshire has become the latest in a string of local authorities taking legal action in a bid to stop the Government from using a hotel to house asylum seekers.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Ipswich Borough Council are due at the High Court on Tuesday.