British patrol boats have recovered migrant canoes from the French side of the English Channel on “several occasions”
Border Farce Part 2: British patrol boats have recovered migrant canoes from the French side of the English Channel on “a number of occasions” as pressure mounts on Priti Patel to reduce the number of crossings
- Home Secretary to transport top British Border Force officers for explanation
- An Interior Ministry source said border officials “are simply not working”
- The courier revealed how the border cutter traveled to France to search for migrants
Priti Patel faced renewed pressure on the migrant crisis last night after it emerged that British border patrols picked up canoes from the French side of the Channel on “a number of occasions”.
The Home Secretary will bring in senior UK Border Force officials today to demand an explanation – as well as a new plan to reduce the number of crossings during the peak summer.
As a sign that Miss Patel’s patience is fraying, a Home Office source said border officials are “just not working” – despite tens of millions of pounds thrown at the issue. Almost 1,200 migrants have arrived in Britain from northern France in the past ten days.
Man suspected of being a migrant is brought to Dover, Kent on Thursday
A group of people suspected of being migrants are brought to Dover, Kent on Thursday
The Mail revealed on Saturday how border guard HMC Valiant crossed the maritime border into French waters, picked up four migrants in a dinghy and delivered them to Dover.
An exchange on open radio frequencies showed that British officers negotiated the “legality” of the maneuver with a French patrol boat.
Now it can be revealed that this was not the first time that a British border patrol has carried out the controversial maneuver. “Over the past four to five years, this has happened several times,” an Interior Ministry insider said. “It’s really rare, but there have been a few previous occasions. It shouldn’t have happened.
A dinghy with 15 Afghan refugees approaches the Greek island of Lesvos last year alongside the British border forces patrol boat HMC Valiant
A sign that Miss Patel’s patience is fraying, a Home Office source said border officials are ‘just not working’ – despite tens of millions of pounds thrown at the issue
The first results of an investigation into the latest incident are expected to land on the Home Secretary’s desk today.
It is understood that there has been resistance to harsher responses at sea – including the return of small boats to France – from the Border Force itself.
Sources accused the agency of “lack of urgency” in handling the escalating crisis.
Kent’s legal threat to single children
A Conservative-led council to deal with hundreds of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is preparing a lawsuit against the Home Office.
Local Kent leaders said the county had reached a “tipping point” and could seek judicial review to force Priti Patel to send the young people to other councils across the country.
About 250 isolated children, some as young as 12, have smuggled across the Channel this year.
Last month they were 115, almost double the level of May of last year, putting pressure on social services and finances.
“We’re at the breaking point,” Kent’s director of children’s services Matt Dunkley told The Sunday Times. “Below, there is a humanitarian crisis involving traumatized young people.
The unprecedented number of solo arrivals includes a growing number of girls, raising fears that they may be forced into prostitution by criminal gangs.
A Vietnamese girl who arrived last weekend is said to have disappeared from a reception center.
A voluntary program started in 2016 for other boards to accept children has stopped.
The Home Office last year authorized vast spending on new equipment to block and turn back migrant boats – including floating “booms”. But despite having been tested in sea trials, the tactic has yet to be deployed in the English Channel.
France – which received £ 28million from British taxpayers in November to step up beach patrols – will only intervene at sea if migrants ask for help.
Border Force’s illicit cooperation with the French to escort small boats across the Channel also risks seriously undermining the harsh public statements of the Home Secretary.
“It is clear that government ministers are unhappy with the continuation of the crossings and the lack of urgency to respond to them,” said a source from the Interior Ministry. “For over a year, ministers have encouraged the responsible team to pursue new tactics and have supported them with funds and resources, but they are simply not working.
“As criminal gangs continue to profit, the front line of border forces is under increasing pressure and our asylum system is further strained. The approach must change.
It is understood that Miss Patel will demand that the High Command of the Border Force explain “how and why” a British ship entered French waters to escort a dinghy into British waters. It will also order them to draw up an action plan to reduce the number of crossings during the summer, including an update on the progress made on Anglo-French cooperation.
There is also growing irritation from Tory MPs, with one MP calling on the Home Secretary to rethink the tactics being used in the Channel and end the problem “once and for all”.
Conservative MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke said: “Ultimately there has to be a new approach to the small craft crisis that prevents boats from leaving France in the first place and brings them back to the English Channel. France.
“It’s criminal activity, plain and simple. The Border Force would not pick up a consignment of drugs or weapons in the middle of the English Channel and bring it to Dover.
She added: “We have seen in other countries, like Australia, that taking strong and decisive action to turn back boats works and saves lives.”