France, Britain agree action plan on migrant Channel crossings

Hugh Fox
January 1, 2019

The men received medical checks and were turned over to immigration officials for processing, the Home Office said.

Tom Watson and Yvette Cooper.

As the number of migrants attempting the risky crossing continues to grow, there is now mounting concern that it's "only a matter of time before people lose their lives", the Home Office said.

She said: "There are serious safety issues here, there are tiny dingy's in a major shipping channel and children on some of them".

The six were found at Kingsdown Beach, near Deal, earlier today after travelling in an inflatable boat and have been handed over to immigration authorities.

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The move follows the interception of two more vessels carrying 12 migrants off the southeast English coast - the latest in a sharp increase in such cases over the Christmas week.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes will visit Dover on Saturday to discuss the situation on the ground with border officials.

But Mr Javid faced accusations of over-egging the scale of the problem, with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott telling the Guardian: "There's no question that with Brexit, and also with the approach of the meaningful vote in January, people are being whipped up about migration issues, because the Government thinks this is the best way of frightening people to vote for their deal".

However, compared with the number of refugees seeking asylum in the United Kingdom every year, the number who have attempted to cross the channel by dinghy is tiny, says BBC political correspondent Ben Wright.

Mr Javid has appointed a "gold commander" to take overall charge of the situation and make strategic decisions about the response.

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Chris Hogben, from the NCA, said its work with French colleagues had resulted in dozens of attempted crossings being prevented.

Ms Nokes said the number of patrol boats was being "constantly reviewed", but it was "feasible that were we to put additional craft they might act as a magnet - encouraging people to make a perilous crossing".

"These are extremely unsafe circumstances in which people are choosing to cross borders", MP Diane Abbott said.

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

The charity said: "How can we claim to uphold our proudest tradition of offering sanctuary to those fleeing persecution if we require people to make death-defying journeys to claim that right and then imprison them indefinitely in detention centres when they arrive?"

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