الجمعة , يونيو 12 2020

Home Secretary in Calais to sign deal

Theresa May

Theresa May and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazenueve will sign a joint deal aimed at tackling the migrant crisis

Home Secretary Theresa May has arrived in Calais where she is to sign a deal with the French government to tackle the migrant crisis.

A “command and control centre” jointly run by British and French police and the UK Border Force is among planned measures, the UK government said.

The centre will target criminals who smuggle migrants into France and across the Channel, the Home Office said.

It will be led by two senior officers, one English and one French.

The Home Office said officers would each report to their own government, and the arrangement would enable greater collaboration.

It is yet to comment on how many British police officers will be posted to Calais.

Ms May has begun her visit with a tour of the Eurotunnel site in Coquelles to inspect security measures installed to deal with the migrant crisis.


The UK government has paid for new security fencing around the Eurotunnel site in Coquelles

The new centre is part of a deal between the UK and France to co-operate over the ongoing problem of illegal migration.

Other measures expected to be included in the new agreement are:

  • The deployment of extra French policing units
  • Additional UK resources to secure the Eurotunnel railhead including fencing, CCTV, flood lighting and infrared detection technology, and stronger security within the tunnel itself
  • A security audit carried out by specialist French and British police teams to underpin the design of the improvements.
  • Additional freight search teams, including detection dogs

The two countries will work together to dismantle smuggling networks and prosecute those responsible, the Home Office said.

The UK government has already spent £7m on new fencing in and around Calais, but details of the latest deal have not yet been released.

Former director general of the UK Border Force, Tony Smith, said a joint British-French command structure would allow authorities to gather much more intelligence on people smuggling networks.

However, former Home Office minister and Ashford MP Damian Green said the causes of migration needed to be tackled, as well practical measures to “keep the roads running”.

“Particularly countries that aren’t torn by civil war but just have desperate economic conditions, you can help them, that’s the root cause of the problem.”

Asylum applications up

The situation in Calais is part of a much larger migration issue in Europe.

More than 240,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean already this year, arriving on the shores of Greece and Italy.

Germany and Sweden have seen a sharp rise in asylum applications, with the German government saying it expects 800,000 applications by the end of this year.

Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that compared to 200,000 asylum applications in Germany last year, the UK had just over 30,000.

The UK government faced challenges from a policy perspective in trying to distinguish between illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, and “there won’t be a 100% success rate”, she said.

Migrant crisis

  • Thousands of migrants who are camped in Calais are attempting to reach the UK by crossing the Channel
  • Eurotunnel has described “nightly incursions”, with groups of up to hundreds of migrants attempting to breach security at once
  • French authorities estimate there are about 3,000 people currently living in the camps known as “the Jungle”, although other estimates put the number higher
  • The Calais Chambers of Commerce has responsibility for the security of the port. Last autumn the UK government pledged £12m over three years to help France tackle the problem
  • The situation in Calais is part of a wider migration crisis in Europe – caused largely by the displacement of people from war-torn countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Eritrea, and also North Africa

Read more: Why is there a crisis in Calais?

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