More UK officers to patrol French beaches to tackle illegal small boat crossings
British officers will be stationed in French control rooms for the first time in a joint effort to tackle illegal small boat crossings of the Channel.
The Home Office says the number of UK-funded officers patrolling French beaches will also increase by 40 per cent in the coming months following a new UK and France agreement signed on Monday (November 14).
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the new agreement lays the foundations for deeper UK-French cooperation to tackle illegal migration and marks the next step for a closer operational partnership between the two countries, which has prevented more than 30,000 crossings this year – 50 per cent more than at the same stage last year.
She says this will increase information sharing, improve understanding of the threat, and ensure UK expertise is at the heart of efforts to disrupt crossings and clamp down on people smugglers.
This more integrated approach will also include strengthened operational cooperation, including joint UK-France analysis teams supporting the coordination and exchange of information by French-command headquarters.
Ms Braverman said: “We must do everything we can to stop people making these dangerous journeys and crack down on the criminal gangs.
“This is a global challenge requiring global solutions, and it is in the interests of both the UK and French governments to work together to solve this complex problem.
“There are no quick fixes, but this new arrangement will mean we can significantly increase the number of French gendarmes patrolling the beaches in northern France and ensure UK and French officers are working hand in hand to stop the people smugglers.”
Joint working between UK and French officers has so far secured more than 140 convictions connected to people smuggling since the start of 2020 – and these criminals now face a combined 400 years behind bars.
The UK-France Joint Intelligence Cell, which has so far dismantled 55 organised crime groups and secured more than 500 arrests since its inception in 2020, will also be expanded.
This latest multi-year arrangement between France and the UK is worth up to 72.2 million euro in 2022 to 2023. It will strengthen security at ports to help clamp down on illegal entry by funding investment in cutting-edge surveillance technology, drones, detection dog teams, CCTV and helicopters to help detect and prevent crossings.
It will also go towards supporting reception and removal centres in France for migrants whose journeys to the UK are prevented, to further deter crossing attempts.
A new taskforce will also be set up, focused on reversing the recent rise in Albanian nationals and organised crime groups exploiting illegal migration routes into Western Europe and the UK.