More Channel crossings as ex-immigration boss calls for offshore processing

·3-min read

Children have been pictured among those making more Channel crossings to the UK as a former immigration chief called for arrivals to be processed offshore so officials can turn away failed asylum claims.

Groups of people – some wrapped in blankets, and adults carrying youngsters – arrived in Kent on Saturday.

Figures for the latest small boat crossings have not yet been provided by the Home Office.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
Young children are among those to have made the dangerous crossing this weekend (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The arrivals came as it was reported that asylum seekers will have to obey strict rules in new centres or face their claims being rejected under plans advocated by Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Kevin Saunders, former chief immigration officer for the UK Border Force, argued that people who arrive in the UK via the Channel need to be processed offshore.

He told Times Radio: “The most effective way would be to take all the people who have arrived in the UK to an offshore processing centre and deal with it offshore.

“That is the only way you will stop people from coming into the UK. We’ve seen trying to do it with the French on land, on the Channel, nothing works.”

Asked why it had to be offshore, he said: “People will still come to the UK, because they know we are not going to be able to remove them from the United Kingdom when their asylum claim fails.”

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, by the RNLI (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, by the RNLI (Gareth Fuller/PA)

He said only a small number of people had been removed this year and described the UK as “just too attractive” for people, adding: “They know that once they’re in the UK they’ve won the jackpot.”

The Home Secretary had been impressed with centres being built in Greece, where migrants were put under strict curfews and faced routine checks on their movements, the Daily Telegraph reported.

A UK government source was quoted by the Telegraph saying if migrants breached new rules, their asylum claim could be impacted.

Meanwhile, the Times reported that Boris Johnson had drafted in Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay to oversee the issue of the rising number of migrants arriving on Britain’s shores.

The newspaper said that the PM was “exasperated” with the situation following a number of strategies to stem the flow.

Home Secretary bullying accusations
Priti Patel (Aaron Chown/PA)

Some previously reported plans including the use giant wave machines to prevent migrant crossings, nets to snare boat propellers, and floating walls in the sea, were “never considered”, Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, told the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this week, adding on the wave machine idea: “I think it’s a bizarre idea.”

And he described a number of the ideas that made their way into the headlines as “fanciful”.

But the move to bring in Mr Barclay could be seen as an admission that Ms Patel has not managed to tackle the issue.

Regional cabinet meeting – Bristol
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Stephen Barclay (Steve Parsons/PA)

It comes after Sir Keir Starmer accused her of failing to deliver on promises to stem the flow of illegal migrants crossing the Channel.

The Labour leader said she had not secured strong enough agreements with the French government to prevent migrants making the dangerous sea journey.

He said the Home Secretary repeatedly used “strong language” to say how she would tackle the problem, but delivered “absolutely nothing”.

His attack came as Ms Patel blamed the EU’s open borders – established by the Schengen Agreement – for failing to check the movement of people through the bloc.

More than 24,700 people have arrived in the UK so far this year after making the Channel crossing in small boats – almost three times the number there were in 2020.

It is thought at least 10 migrants have died in the last few weeks while trying to make the dangerous crossing.

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