Prof Thom Brooks is correct to criticise the government’s withdrawal from the EU returns policy (I advised Starmer on his plan to ‘stop the boats’. This is why Labour’s policy will work, 27 July). As a former Home Office caseworker, I am aware that the regulations were an important, if fallible, tool in the processing of asylum applications. Its abandonment is not, however, a major factor in the increase in small boat crossings since 2018.
The introduction of the 2000 Immigration (Carriers’ Liability) Act, with severe fines for offending carriers, prohibits asylum seekers from entering the UK by airline or ferry routes. This led them to attempt clandestine entry via French ports, hidden in lorries and cars. The introduction of detection technology at Calais, followed by improved security at the Coquelles railhead, closed these routes. This is why migrants now cross by small boats – they have no other option.
The boats will only be stopped by the provision of safe and legal routes to the UK, together with an effective returns agreement and vigorous policing of criminal gangs.
Horsham, West Sussex