UK to pay £55m to French border patrols in migrant clampdown | Migration

The UK taxpayer is to hand over a further €62.7m (£55m) to France to fund another clampdown on small boat crossings across the Channel, the Home Office has revealed.

The home Secretary, Priti Patel, agreed to pay the sum as part of a deal reached with the French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, on Tuesday.

At least 430 people crossed the Dover Strait on Monday, a record for a single day, bringing the total for the year so far to nearly 8,000.

The revelation that the UK is to pay £55m towards French border patrols is likely to anger MPs who have in the past argued France should be responsible for the costs.

As part of the deal, the Home Office said the number of police patrolling French beaches will more than double for the second time in a year to prevent small boats from departing French beaches.

The package also includes the following:

  • French officers will patrol wider areas of coastline across the northern coast between Boulogne and Dunkirk, and will expand patrols further north-west around Dieppe.

  • The deployment of wide-area surveillance technology to improve coverage of the coast of France to prevent crossing attempts, including the use of aerial surveillance.

  • Investment in infrastructure to increase border security at the main border crossing points along the Channel coast.

The new agreement will come into force in the coming days.

With UK support last year, France doubled the number of officers deployed daily on French beaches, which resulted in France preventing twice as many crossings so far this year than in the same period in 2020.

But the Home Office said, as French interceptions increased, organised criminal gangs have changed their tactics, moving further up the French coast, and forcing migrants to take even longer, riskier journeys.

Patel has come under increased pressure from all political parties to get a grip on the crisis. The deal with France comes as the flagship asylum bill is debated in parliament. Humanitarian groups have said the measures in the bill will do nothing to address the root causes of Channel crossings.

Despite the surge in such crossings, the UK continues to receive far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

At least 44,230 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, according to data from the UN high commissioner for refugees.

Despite the sharp rise in small boat arrivals on the UK south coast, asylum applications in Britain fell in 2020 to 29,456. This was significantly lower than the 93,475 asylum applications made in France and the 121,955 in Germany.

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