Increased patrols planned to combat surge in illegal cross-Channel migrants after Anglo-French talks

Charles Hymas
Anglo French talks on migrant crossings - POOL AFP

Increased patrols and new efforts to target people smugglers have been proposed to combat the surge in migrants crossing the Channel following Anglo-French talks.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart Christophe Castaner agreed “more resources” to intercept and stop crossings along the French coast were “crucial.”

They are expected to consider stepping up patrols on the coast and increased surveillance including CCTV and drones.

Extra money to fund has been offered by the UK  beyond the 7m Euros committed by Britain last January to buy specialist equipment including drones, night-vision equipment and off-road vehicles, according to a French ministry statement.

Ways of improving intelligence to combat people smuggling gangs are also to be investigated following a dramatic increase in boat crossings by migrants, with more than 1,000 already having attempted this year, more than double the whole of last year.

Ms Patel, said: “I will not let the ruthless gangs of criminal people smugglers continue to put lives in danger – which is why I’m doing everything in my power as Home Secretary to put a stop to these illegal crossings.

French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner welcomes his British counterpart Priti Patel before a meeting in Paris

“We’ve been working extremely closely with our French colleagues to tackle the use of small boats but we both agreed more needs to be done.

“It’s vital we ensure our collective expertise is used to stop the boats from leaving French shores and dismantle the criminal networks driving this activity.”

Mr Castaner said: “France, like the United Kingdom, has an interest in curbing the phenomenon of illegal Channel crossings which present a considerable risk for those who take to the sea in makeshift vessels.

“Crossing the Channel by sea must cease to be an option to reach British territory illegally from the Hauts-de-France [northern French region]. 

“A new British financial commitment would make it possible to strengthen patrols and increase efficiency. We will be able to review progress at the end of the year.”

On Brexit, the ministers agree that in the event of a no-deal to maintain close coordination to limit any disruption and ensure “fluidity of traffic” at the borders.

“With regard to the right of residence of British citizens in France and French citizens in the United Kingdom, the legal frameworks necessary in case of a no-deal Brexit are already in place and will limit difficulties,” said their statement.