Small boats crossing the Channel: What Border Force staff are seeing on the UK's beaches

The union representing Border Force officers has told Sky News' Daily podcast that staff and those crossing the Channel are having "horrific" experiences on the UK's beaches.

The Immigration Service Union (ISU), which represents borders, immigration, and customs workers, told host Niall Paterson that the government's proposed Illegal Migration Bill has "many gaps" including how the Home Office will house people arriving in the UK.

Lucy Moreton, the union's professional officer, added that she thought the proposals were "full of aspiration", but that the Bill, put forward by the Home Secretary Suella Braverman, will "fuel" the number of crossings occurring in the short-term.

Here, she puts across her point of view:

It's full of aspiration. I can't object to wanting to end illegal migration. I'm not certain that this bill is the right way, or the best way, or the most cost-effective way, but it might work.

We've had successive home secretary after home secretary, prime minister after prime minister, say: "We are going to break this model. We are going to stop the small boats." But we haven't.

The pressure is ever increasing. The way in which the government has chosen to respond to this up until now has been very reactionary. The presumption has been: "They're not coming. We're not going to get any more small boats. So we don't need to resource the systems properly to be able to cope with them."

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That's what happened with Manston last year, for example, when we filled up. We had people that we were detaining for over a month in conditions that weren't safe for more than 24 hours, thousands more people than the site was for because... government had not planned where we were going to put the numbers of people.

It's really wearing on the staff, because there's no planning, there's no resourcing. No one thinks about leave, or work-life balance, or stress, the vicarious stress of the human stories.

You've had a child in your arms that's got fuel burns. You're helping a pregnant woman shivering in the lightest of clothing. You're being threatened by young men who are grouped together that can communicate with themselves, but you can't understand what they're saying. That's all horrific for both sides, for the migrants and for the staff.

It's really frightening, and there's been no planning. There still is no planning to deal with this.

As with the Migration And Borders Bill before it, there's so many gaps [in the Illegal Migration Bill]. Yes, we can detain [people] for 28 days... but where else are we going to put them? Where do we send them to? Rwanda... will only take a few hundred. 45,000 [people in small boats came over the Channel] last year. We're expecting the same sort of number this year. Where do we put that many people?

Read more:
Is the Illegal Migration Bill legal?

Ultimately, wrongly and horrifyingly, this is a business to criminals. They want to get as many people at the highest possible cost across the Channel. They will use anything that we give them to do that. So, when we say: "This is all going to end", all that will do is fuel, in the short-term, the crossings.

It does need to stop, I'm absolutely with successive home secretaries and prime ministers on that.

Is this the way to stop it? We can hope.

Measures in the Illegal Migration Bill include removing people found to have entered the UK illegally within 28 days, and returning them to their home country, or another "safe third country", such as Rwanda.

The UN's refugee agency says the proposed legislation would "amount to an asylum ban" and would be "a clear breach of the Refugee Convention, and would undermine a longstanding humanitarian tradition of which the British people are rightly proud".

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Interview by Niall Paterson

Additional words by David Chipakupaku

Podcast produced by Annie Joyce, with Alex Edden, and Jada-Kai Meosa John

Podcast edited by Philly Beaumont