Home Secretary Priti Patel says she will HALVE migrant Channel crossings within weeks and virtually eliminate the trips by spring next year
- Home Secretary vows to halve illegal migrant crossing by the end of this month
- Action plan with France vows to make crossings an ‘infrequent phenomenon’
- More than 1,400 people have crossed Channel illegally in the past ten months
Illegal migrant crossings of the Channel will be halved by the end of this month, Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed on Tuesday night.
It came as she agreed an ambitious new action plan with the French which will aim to virtually eliminate the crossings by next spring.
The UK and France agreed to halve crossings in just a fortnight’s time. Within six months the dangerous journeys will be an ‘infrequent phenomenon’, according to the action plan.
Police patrols along the northern French coast will be doubled, with beaches under round-the-clock surveillance for the first time.
Illegal migrant crossings of the Channel will be halved by the end of this month, Home Secretary Priti Patel vowed last night
New detection equipment will be used so French authorities can intercept boats before they leave shore.
More than 1,400 people have crossed the Channel illegally in the past 10 months, unofficial figures show.
Miss Patel said: ‘I am absolutely committed to doing everything in my power to stop these dangerous Channel crossings.’
The ‘immediate objective’, by the end of October, is to halve the number of migrant crossings accounted for over the summer and reduce it further by the end of December so that by the spring it has become an ‘infrequent phenomenon’, according to the pledges made in the document by the Home Secretary and French interior minister.
Millions of euros in funding could be used to tackle the problem – and once this is spent ‘additional UK support’ may be needed to pay for resources, the paper said.
More ‘intelligence sources’ will be sent out in France to gather information on organised criminal gangs behind the crossings, while migrants would be encouraged to stay in the country rather than travel to the UK with action being taken to ‘deter repeated attempts to cross the Channel’.
The agreement was made in August and details were eventually published on Tuesday.
In it, Priti Patel and Christophe Castaner vow to put into motion the ‘urgent action’ they said was needed to stop the wave of crossings when they met.
The patrols are ‘crucial’ to meeting the 50% reduction target and are believed by the UK and French Governments to be the best chance at having the most impact in preventing boats leaving the continent before crossing the water.
In the agreement, Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner (pictured) vow to put into motion the ‘urgent action’ they said was needed to stop the wave of crossings when they met
So far this year, UK authorities are thought to have intercepted more than 1,000 migrants – and it is understood there were more than 300 crossings in August alone.
The document frequently refers to the large numbers of incidents – but never commits in numbers how many crossings have taken place.
The Home Office has so far declined to provide an exact, up-to-date figure.
Loss of life at sea ‘is to be avoided at all costs’, the document made public a day after two migrants were found dead also said.
The bodies of two Iraqis were found washed up on a beach in northern France on Monday.
The pair – aged 17 and 22 – were discovered on the same beach at Le Touquet at different times of the day.
It is thought they were trying to reach the UK by boat. One was found near a small boat with two oars and a life jacket, according to reports.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘Our thoughts and sympathies are with the friends and families of those involved.
‘An investigation into the circumstances is being run by the French authorities and we are ready to assist if required.’
The action plan said there would be ‘direct engagement and deterrence’ by ‘debriefing teams’ speaking to migrants on beaches and at camps about the ‘relative attractiveness of France compared to the UK as a destination for asylum seekers’.
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