Channel crossings: 'No agreement' on turning migrant boats back
There has been no agreement reached between the United Kingdom and France that would see illegal migrant boats returned to France despite the British taxpayer sending some £28 million in payoffs to the French government.
Chris Philp, the government’s Minister for immigration compliance told the Home Affairs Committee in the House of Commons that it is “currently correct” that no boat return deal has been struck between the two nations.
Philp said the French government was yet to agree on any tactic.
He added there had been more than 8,000 crossings in 2020.
In 2019 there were 1,844 crossings and 299 in 2018.
"The French operational posture on the water is that they don't forcibly intercept migrant boats.
"They will rescue them if they start sinking and if the migrants request assistance but they do not currently forcibly intercept migrant boats while in French waters" Philp said.
Philp said the matter had been raised with the French government, adding that "on land" its authorities had "stepped up enormously in the last few months and interceptions on beaches".
Dan O'Mahoney, the Home Office's Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, told the committee they had been "negotiating very hard with the French".
In total, the UK has spent £192 million on illegal migration-related activities in France since September 2014, he said, adding the majority of this had gone towards infrastructure for border controls and security in and around Calais.
French police have previously been accused of actually assisting illegal migrants to cross the Channel by a people smuggler in Dunkirk, who claimed in 2019 that the police would inform them on the best times to set sail in order to avoid detection.