Britain and France to step up migrant patrols in English Channel

Number of migrants crossing English Channel to reach UK 'deeply concerning', immigration minister says

Number of migrants crossing English Channel to reach UK 'deeply concerning', immigration minister says

More than 220 people have attempted the crossing in small boats since November.

Increasing political pressure forced Sajid Javid cut short his holiday to return to the United Kingdom with more than 90 people reportedly saved and detained in the narrow waterway between France and the United Kingdom since Christmas Day.

"Working with our French partners we would anticipate further arrests over the coming weeks and also more attempts to reach the United Kingdom are likely", said Chris Hogben of the UK's National Crime Agency.

Following a call with his French counterpart, Christophe Castaner, the pair agreed an "enhanced action plan" to be put in place in the coming week.

The main United Kingdom opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said there was a "duty to reach out the hand of humanity" to people facing danger and seeking safety.

Mr Javid has come under growing pressure from his own backbenches to act, with Kent MP Rehman Chishti telling him to "get a grip".

However, in the face of calls for more Border Force Cutters to be deployed in the Channel, he said it was "vital we strike a balance between protecting them and protecting our borders" - and avoid encouraging more people to take the risk.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid asked that his government department "treat the situation as a major incident".

In the latest in a sequence of Channel crossings, six Iranian men were found on a Kent beach early on Sunday having arrived from France in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat.

"We are being told that those touting for these crossings are absolutely open about it", Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes is to discuss the situation with Border Force officials
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes is to discuss the situation with Border Force officials

As ministers called on the Home Office to take action against an unprecedented influx of boats carrying migrants from the third world, the bishop of Dover told the Observer it was "crucial that we all remember that we are dealing with human beings here".

But Chris Hogben, the head of the NCA-led Invigor organised immigration crime task force, also warned more attempted crossings were "likely".

On Friday, Mr Javid declared the situation a "major incident", appointing a "gold commander" to oversee the situation and give daily updates.

"There are a number of reasons behind the recent increase, many outside the UK's control".

But he added: "It falls short of the kind of joint action and operations needed on the English Channel - specifically for the immediate return to France of people found making illegal crossings".

A Border Force RIB vessel was pictured on patrol in Dover Harbour on Saturday.

Meanwhile, ex-Ukip leader Nigel Farage said Javid could become the next prime minister if he followed the lead of former Australian PM Tony Abbott to "make it crystal clear that any individual who crosses the Channel by dinghy and illegally enters British waters will not be allowed to stay in our country".

Mr Elphicke said it would be better to bring Border Force cutters back from the Mediterranean, where they are taking part in search-and-rescue operations.

People smugglers have told migrants that they should attempt to make the crossing to the United Kingdom before border security is strengthened after Brexit on March 29, 2019.

Ingrid Parrot, spokeswoman for the French Maritime Prefecture for the English Channel, said the number of illicit crossings in small boats had increased from 23 in 2016 and 13 in 2017 to 70 this year, the majority of them after the end of October.

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Officer Singh was a native of Fiji and has been employed by Newman Police Department since July 2011. KCSO will be holding their press conference at KCSO Headquarters on Norris Road in Oildale at 1 p.m.

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