UK-France migrant deal pledges 40% boost in officers on beach patrol

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The UK has negotiated a 40% boost in the number of officers patrolling beaches in northern France in a historic deal to tackle the migrant crisis.

British staff will also be embedded in French control rooms for the first time under the landmark plans to clamp down on dangerous small boat crossings, as the number of people making the perilous journey to the UK so far this year topped 40,000.

Further measures signed off in Paris include an investment in CCTV and dog detection teams to keep tabs on ports and plans to better equip officers with drones and night vision capabilities.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
Small boats used by migrants crossing the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A new taskforce will also be established to address the “recent rise in Albanians and organised crime groups exploiting illegal migration routes” into Western Europe, No 10 said.

Elsewhere, joint UK-France analysis teams will seek to boost information sharing.

Lastly, the deal pledges investment in French reception and removal centres for migrants who are prevented from making the crossing to the UK.

The agreement was signed by Home Secretary Suella Braverman and French interior minister Gerald Darmanin on Monday morning.

Remembrance Sunday
Home Secretary Suella Braverman (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The Prime Minister said he had spent more time working on the issue than any other, except the autumn statement, since entering No 10.

Downing Street said the 40% increase in the number of officers patrolling beaches in northern France would “increase early detection”, while the presence of UK staff in French control rooms would boost understanding of the “threat” at hand and help inform deployments.

The boost in port surveillance is designed to crack down on migrants attempting to enter the UK on lorries.

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, claimed the deal fails to address the factors behind people choosing to put themselves at risk trying to reach Britain the first place – and will therefore “do little to end the crossings”.

He called for a focus on creating more “safe routes” and working with the EU and other countries to “share responsibility” for the “global challenge”.

He also urged the Government to do “far more” to reduce the backlogs in the current asylum system.

“The Government must take a more comprehensive approach and create an orderly, fair and humane asylum system that recognises that the vast majority of those taking dangerous journey are refugees escaping for their lives,” he said.

“It needs to face up to the fact it is a global issue which will not be resolved by enforcement measures alone.”

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