Hundreds of extra French law enforcement officers will use enhanced technology and intelligence insight to prevent illegal Channel crossings under a new agreement struck by the Prime Minister and President Macron in Paris today.
For the first time, the UK will help fund a detention centre in France to enhance the country’s ability to cope with the level of people being trafficked across the Channel. This new centre will support French efforts to increase detention capacity, allowing more migrants who might otherwise travel by dangerous and illegal routes to the UK to be removed from the French coast.
Building on our existing partnership, which saw twice as many illegal crossings stopped in 2022 than 2021, today’s agreement will also more than double the number of personnel deployed in northern France to tackle small boats, with over half of these in place by the end of the year. The UK will contribute funding towards this.
Efforts will be bolstered by a new, highly trained, permanent French mobile policing unit dedicated to tackling small boats. Additional drones, aircraft and other technologies like surveillance will also be deployed, as the UK and France step up intelligence sharing to clamp down on people trafficking routes.
These French efforts will be overseen by a new 24/7 zonal coordination centre, with permanent UK liaison officers. The coordination centre will bring all relevant French law enforcement partners together for the first time to coordinate the response to an alarming trend which has seen a 50% rise in illegal migration across Europe in the last year. The UK has our own Small Boats Operations Command which has ensured that 99% of those who enter British waters are intercepted.
This enhanced cooperation aims to increase the increase the interception rate for attempted crossings and drastically reduce the number of crossings each year, supporting our long-term, shared goal of completely stopping this illegal migration route.
The Prime Minister said:
I have made it one of my five priorities to stop the boats. We are delivering on that priority to stop people coming to the UK illegally.
Last year I agreed the largest ever small boats deal with France to increase UK-funded patrols by 40 per cent. This week I announced measures to ensure nobody who enters the UK illegally can remain here.
We don’t need to manage this problem, we need to break it. And today, we have gone further than ever before to put an end to this disgusting trade in human life. Working together, the UK and France will ensure that nobody can exploit our systems with impunity.
In addition to the extra steps taken to patrol the beaches in the north of France, today’s agreement will also see further UK and French cooperation upstream to stop illegal migration at source. This includes further coordination between the National Crime Agency and its French counterpart via officers based in countries along the routes favoured by people traffickers.
Alongside last year’s deal with France, the Prime Minister has taken a number of steps to curb illegal migration since taking office. This includes re-establishing the Calais Group of Northern European nations to disrupt traffickers and setting a long-term ambition for a UK-EU wide agreement on returns – an ambition France has confirmed today that they share.
This week the UK Government has announced a Bill to end illegal entry as a route to asylum in the UK.
These measures will remove the incentive for people to risk their lives through dangerous and unnecessary journeys and pull the rug from under the criminal gangs profiting from this misery once and for all.
Illegal migrants will be detained and swiftly removed to their home country if safe, or another safe third country, such as Rwanda, where they will be supported to rebuild their lives.
Anyone illegally entering the UK will be prevented from accessing the UK’s world-leading modern slavery support or abusing these laws to block their removal.
The only challenges that will suspend removal will be where someone claims that their removal to a safe third country would lead to a real risk of serious and irreversible harm, or on the basis that they do not fall within the cohort of persons liable to removal under the Bill. Any other challenges or human rights claims can also only be heard after removal, remotely.
By ending illegal immigration as a route to asylum, stopping the boats and taking back control of our borders the Bill will ensure the UK can better support people coming through fair, safe and legal routes.
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