letter from Border Force Team

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letter from Border Force Team
« on: August 05, 2020, 06:47:32 PM »
Border Force Correspondence Team
Priory Court
St John’s Road
Kent CT17 9SH
Ms P Woods

Date 4 August 2020
Our Ref TO 256552
Dear Ms Woods
Thank you for your email dated 31 July addressed to the Prime Minister and the
Home Secretary regarding small boats attempting to cross the Channel carrying migrants
to the UK. This has been passed to the Border Force Correspondence Team and I have
been asked to reply.
No-one should be making these dangerous and illegally-facilitated crossings from France.
France is a safe country with a well-run asylum system. No-one should be getting on
these boats and putting themselves in danger. The safest thing anyone can do is seek
protection in the first safe country they reach.
The Government is determined to put a stop to these crossings, and all attempts to reach
the UK clandestinely. The Home Secretary and the Home Office is working in
collaboration with the French Government and the relevant international law enforcement
agencies to tackle this dangerous and illegal activity. It is bearing down on the facilitators
and organised crime groups behind this illegal activity and taking all possible measures to
return those who arrive here back to France.
Despite robust action to tackle illegal migration both domestically and internationally,
smugglers will always seek to find ways to get people to the UK. We are using all the
skills of Border Force, the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and French
law enforcement to dismantle and arrest the criminal gangs who trade in people
smuggling. The Home Secretary is also developing plans to reform policies and laws that
will change the UK’s overall approach to illegal migration and the associated criminality
that takes place to stop these crossings completely. In some areas, this will require
changes to legislation.
The Government is doing everything it can to bring these malicious criminals to justice and
curb this illegal trade. It is not a simple task and requires action from both sides of the
Channel. Governments across Europe are in the same position and we are working fast to
implement a solution.
Assets on the ground in France have been enhanced and now provide 24/7 cover of the
northern beaches. The Government is continuing efforts to crack down on the criminal
gangs who facilitate the crossings. The National Crime Agency and the Home Office have
introduced a permanent presence in France, with operational leads now based in Paris
and Calais. This is to aid intelligence sharing between the two countries and to target the
criminal networks involved.
In addition to this, the UK-France Coordination and Information Centre opened in Calais in
November 2018 as part of the ongoing co-operation between the UK and France to tackle
criminality at the border. The centre sees Border Force working closely alongside Police
Aux Frontieres as part of a 24/7 operation to:
• Assist with preventing illegal attempts to cross the shared border;
• Exchange real-time intelligence between UK and French agencies to combat crossborder criminality;
• Work on the prevention of threats to public order on cross-border infrastructure; and
• Provide joint analysis of cross-Channel traffic flows.
Officers from Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency are also based in
the Co-ordination and Information Centre.
Our law enforcement response is delivering results. In the first quarter of this year, over
1,100 migrants were arrested in France compared to 342 arrests in the same period last
year. Last year, Immigration Enforcement made 418 arrests, leading to 203 convictions
for a total of 437 years. Out of these, 259 arrests and 101 convictions were for people
smuggling. Immigration Enforcement carried out 841 disruptions against organised crime
gangs and individuals engaged in organised immigration crime, 404 of which were related
to people smuggling. This year, over 10 people smugglers have been convicted and put
behind bars as a result of Immigration Enforcement investigations, with more
investigations underway.
In addition, the Home Secretary is regularly in touch with her French counterpart to
address the many issues associated with these crossings, including operational measures
to prevent crossings as well as practices and legal measures to return more migrants to
We should be in no doubt about the threat to life posed by these crossings, and we are
very focused on saving lives. The small unseaworthy dinghies are crossing one of the
busiest shipping lanes in the world often in front of large container ships. The people
onboard the dinghies are wearing unsuitable life jackets on rough waters and are unaware
of the real and imminent danger they are in. Under our legal duties and maritime laws,
once they are in UK waters the Border Force teams need them to comply and listen
quickly so that they can be brought to safety. This is not straight forward and often fraught
with difficulties and resistance.
There is also considerable policy work going on to understand where individuals may
exploit opportunities to make vexatious claims for protection. The Government wants to
reduce unmeritorious claims in order to ensure the UK offers protection to those in fear of
persecution or from other high risks.
I can reassure you that Coronavirus (COVID-19) has not had an impact on the Home
Office’s capability to respond to illegal migration and Border Force and Immigration
Enforcement will always be given the resources needed to tackle these thoughtless and
dangerous crossings. All teams are fully operational, with Border Force having a total fleet
of five cutters and six coastal patrol vessels. Border Force’s deployment of maritime
capabilities is under constant review.
These attempted crossings are reckless acts facilitated by criminals. People smuggling is
illegal making these small boat crossings illegal. We are determined to stop these illegal
crossings but as with all organised criminal activity, this will take time. The Government is
absolute in its determination to use all means to end it.
I hope my reply has been of help and clarified the situation for you.
Yours sincerely
By email
Ms A Button
Correspondence Office

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