NEWS | Joint UK-France agreement approved on tackling small boat crossings in the English Channel

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The number of officers in northern France will increase by 40% over the next few months thanks to British funding to step up action to reduce illegal crossings of small boats, following a new agreement between the Kingdom United and France signed today.

Interior Minister Suella Braverman is in France today (Monday November 14) to finalize the arrangement with French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. The new agreement lays the foundations for deeper Franco-British cooperation to combat illegal immigration and marks the next stage of the close operational partnership between the 2 countries which has prevented more than 30,000 crossings this year.

This arrangement means that, for the first time, specialist British agents will also be integrated with their French counterparts, increasing information sharing, improving understanding of the threat and ensuring that British expertise is at the heart of efforts to to disrupt level crossings and crack down on people smugglers.

This more integrated approach will also include enhanced operational cooperation, including joint UK-France analysis teams supporting coordination and information exchange by French command HQ.

Interior Minister Suella Braverman said:

“We must do everything we can to prevent people from making these dangerous journeys and crack down on criminal gangs. This is a global challenge requiring global solutions, and it is in the interest of the UK and French governments to work together to solve this complex problem.

“There is no silver bullet, but this new arrangement means we can dramatically increase the number of French Gendarmes patrolling the beaches of northern France and ensure that British and French officers work hand in hand to stop smugglers.”

So far, joint work between British and French officers has secured more than 140 human trafficking related convictions since the start of 2020 – and these criminals now face a combined 400 years behind bars.

The joint UK-France intelligence cell, which has so far dismantled 55 organized crime groups and secured more than 500 arrests since its creation in 2020, will also be expanded.

This latest multi-year deal between France and the UK is worth up to €72.2m in 2022-23.

It will boost port security to help crack down on illegal entries by funding investments in advanced surveillance technology, drones, detection dog teams, CCTV and helicopters to help detect and prevent crossings at the level.

It will also be used to support reception and removal centers in France for migrants whose journeys to the UK are prevented, to further deter attempted crossings.

A new task force will also be set up, focused on reversing the recent increase in the number of Albanian nationals and organized crime groups exploiting illegal migration routes to Western Europe and the UK.

This enhanced approach will strengthen British and French collaboration, which has already prevented more than 30,000 illegal crossing attempts so far this year, more than 50% more than at the same stage last year.

The renewed partnership marks the next step in joint efforts to reduce these dangerous crossings and paves the way for deeper cooperation between the two countries in the future, in view of the Franco-British leaders’ summit next year.

The Home Secretary will travel to Frankfurt later this week, where she will meet her international counterparts from the G7 to discuss a range of priority issues, including the fight against serious organized crime. She will also meet with neighboring countries as soon as possible as part of the UK’s continued cooperation with European partners to advance the issue of illegal migration.

The UK’s work with international partners is a key part of the government’s broad-based approach to fixing the broken asylum system, breaking the business model of smugglers facilitating such travel and cracking down on illegal migration.

This includes measures introduced by the Nationality and Borders Act to prevent abuse of the system, such as introducing life sentences for smugglers and increasing the maximum penalty for illegal entry into the UK. United, as well as our world-leading partnership with Rwanda which will see migrants making these unnecessary moves relocated there to have their claims reviewed and rebuild their lives.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government License v3.0.

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