Sudden spike in Channel migrant boats gets United Kingdom attention

01 January, 2019, 05:59 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Spike in illegal Channel crossings'concerning: UK minister

The men made the trip in an inflatable boat with a rigid hull on December 30, landing in Kingsdown, according to the British Home Office.

David Wood, a former head of immigration enforcement, said the government should change its policy to return migrants to France once they are picked up and stop "Britain's border force, coastguards and lifeboats", from "being used as a taxi service for migrants".

A witness who works at the Zetland Arms pub, which overlooks the beach, said they saw authorities leading a small group of men from the shore to a Ford Transit van at around 9.30am.

Britain and France have announced an "enhanced action plan" over the next week to combat attempts by migrants and refugees to cross the Channel from northern France, using small boats in risky conditions.

Mr Javid will meet with officials from the Border Force, National Crime Agency and officials in Whitehall today, after declaring the ongoing crisis a "major incident".

But he resisted calls to deploy more cutters to the Channel, saying he was keeping the number of vessels available to the Border Force "under close review".

Rejecting Mr Javid's suggestion that increasing patrols would encourage more people to attempt the crossing, Mr Elphicke said: "You don't deter burglars by leaving your front door open".

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the UK's armed forces "stand ready" if needed to prevent further crossings.

But writing in the Daily Telegraph, he admitted that numerous factors behind the increase in crossings are "outside of our control".

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USA troops are stationed in Iraq as part of the coalition against the Islamic State terror group. The US "cannot continue to be the policeman of the world", he told troops at the Iraqi base.

In Mr Javid's absence, immigration minister Caroline Nokes visited a centre handling the asylum-seeking migrants in Dover on Saturday.

In the past two months, at least 221 migrants have tried to cross from France to Britain by way of the channel, the BBC reported.

The two men agreed to meet face-to-face in January to assess whether further action is required, the Home Office said.

"Where people's lives are at risk, people are rescued where necessary, " she said.

Mr Javid declared the situation a "major incident" on Friday, appointing a "gold commander" to oversee the situation and give daily updates.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said in a statement that attempting to cross the channel in these small boats is "extremely unsafe", adding that some of the activity is facilitated by organized crime groups.

"They are around and about in the camps, they are in the cafes in Calais".

A spokeswoman for the French Maritime Prefecture, Ingrid Parrot, said authorities were dealing with a "network" of organised people smugglers.

Chris Matcham, who watched the events unfold, said: "I was driving towards New Romney this morning with my sister when a police vehicle came haring past us along the road".

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