France is launching an action plan to stop migrants crossing the English Channel, the country’s Interior Ministry has announced.
In a statement released on Friday, it said security will be stepped up in the northern French ports of Calais and Boulogne, as well as on beaches and other areas which could be used to launch boats.
Measures will include 24-hour surveillance and patrols by maritime and land police, customs and the navy. There will also be more training for people working on the coast and in maritime industries while authorities will also look at how the law tackles smuggling.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid offered financial support and technology like drones, radars and video surveillance, the statement said.
The French interior minister, Christophe Castaner, said the move showed a commitment by Britain to continue working together.
He said: “This plan should allow us to end these crossings by migrants who are not only illegal but also extremely dangerous. The telephone call with my colleague Sajid Javid was very constructive. The perspective of Brexit does not alter the need for our two countries to strengthen our co-operation to bring in concrete and co-ordinated measured to fight illegal immigration.”
The detail of the agreement will now be drawn up and is expected to be ratified by the ministers when Mr Castaner visits London.
French authorities recorded 40 illegal Channel crossings and 31 failed attempts in 2018, most of which were in November and December. Of the 504 migrants seeking to cross the English Channel in 2018, 276 managed to get to British waters and coasts and 228 were intercepted by the French authorities, the Interior Ministry said. Most of the people are Iranian.
The hike in attempts was down to more security at ferry ports and the Eurotunnel, according to the statement.
Javid said: “I wholeheartedly welcome this action from our French colleagues and it is vital we continue to work together to tackle the situation in the English Channel.
“France’s plan will operate in conjunction with the action that the UK is taking to protect our border and prevent the loss of life.
“We’ve stepped-up our law enforcement response through the NCA and other agencies and earlier this week I announced two Border Force cutters would be returning to the UK from abroad – with a navy vessel helping with our patrols in the interim.
“The UK and French authorities continue to work closely through the new 24/7 Anglo-French co-ordination centre in Calais and we are developing our joint action plan which will further build on this work. I look forward to finalising it when I meet the French Interior Minister in the coming weeks.”