France, Britain agree on action plan for migrant Channel crossings

Number of migrants crossing English Channel to reach UK 'deeply concerning', immigration minister says

The rising number of migrants crossing the Channel will be discussed by Home Secretary Sajid Javid at a special meeting with other senior government officials, Border Force and the National Crime Agency later.

Mr Javid has come under growing pressure to act, and cut short a family holiday in South Africa to address the issue.

As six more Iranian migrants reached Kent in an inflatable boat yesterday, the home secretary reached an "enhanced" agreement with his French counterpart that included raising awareness about the risks of the crossing.

Lucy Moreton, a spokesman for the Immigration Services Union, said it was "very hard to know" how much the French authorities were doing.

"Working with our French partners we would anticipate further arrests over the coming weeks and also more attempts to reach the United Kingdom are likely", said Chris Hogben of the UK's National Crime Agency.

"More than 200 migrants have arrived on the Kent coast in small craft in the past two months".

"What we want to make sure is that we continue to work with the French so that people are prevented from leaving beaches in northern France; to make sure we are providing joint operations both in terms of intelligence (and) policing; and indeed when people are out on the water assisting the French response".

"While the Tories wax lyrical about control of our borders and being tough on security, they can not seem to get a grip on criminal smugglers operating on a few hundred miles of coastline, in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world".

Speaking to Tom Watson on LBC, Labour MP and chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Yvette Cooper said that Mr Javid will face questions from the committee on the incident.

Mr Chishti added: "They have not got a grip on it".

Mr Elphicke said it would be better to bring Border Force cutters back from the Mediterranean, where they are taking part in search-and-rescue operations. Crossings had been "easier" since the end of October because of the mild weather, she said.

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Dover MP Charlie Elphicke called for more patrol boats and accused the Home Office of letting the "crisis" escalate.

Increasing political pressure forced Sajid Javid cut short his holiday to return to the United Kingdom with more than 90 people reportedly saved and detained in the narrow waterway between France and the United Kingdom since Christmas Day.

"Attempting to cross the Channel in this way is extremely unsafe and they are putting their lives at risk".

And the head of the National Crime Agency-led Invigor organised immigration crime task force, Chris Hogben, warned more crossings were "likely" in the coming weeks.

Hogben said "significant resources" were being devoted to helping French authorities disrupt trafficking activities and dozens of crossing have been prevented, while "three suspected facilitators" had been arrested and charged.

Ms Moreton said that the two cutters available to Border Force staff patrolling the English Channel were "woefully inadequate" but that adding to their numbers would take a considerable time.

People smugglers have told migrants that they should attempt to make the crossing to the United Kingdom before border security is strengthened after Brexit on March 29, 2019.

Ms Parrot told Today: "Before 2018, we didn't have smugglers".

"I like this one, it looks safe", said a young Iraqi man at a camp in Calais who gave his name as Ali and was browsing the site.

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

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