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Government examines claims French migrant officers ‘falling short’ of standard

Downing Street said the UK was working closely with French authorities despite claims about the activity of a ‘small minority’ of border officials.

David Hughes
Tuesday 12 September 2023 16:20 BST
A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)
A group of people thought to be migrants crossing the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

The UK Government has said it would expect “rapid action” from French authorities if border officials across the Channel were failing to tackle migrant crossings.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman suggested “the Home Office will be in touch with their French counterparts” if there are reports of officers “not meeting the standards expected”.

But Downing Street insisted the Government was working in close co-operation with French authorities to help meet Rishi Sunak’s promise to “stop the boats”.

A Daily Express investigation claimed some French police prefer to party when they are off duty rather than stop migrants, with officers admitting to letting boats sail to the UK.

Mr Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed a three-year deal costing UK taxpayers around £480 million to beef up efforts to stop migrants making the dangerous crossing in small boats.

But the Express reported that off-duty officers were drinking late into the night, with one quoted as saying “we don’t stop the migrants, it’s not our job to stop them”.

More than 23,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far in 2023, including more than 3,000 in September.

The latest Home Office figures showed 144 people were detected in three boats on Monday.

Crossings continued on Tuesday, marking the eleventh consecutive day of arrivals amid a spell of warm weather.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “As the public would expect, we will look into any reports that a small minority of officers are falling short of the standards expected, on both sides.

“If there was any evidence provided of that we would of course expect rapid action.

“But in general terms we are working closely with our French counterparts, this year alone more than 15,000 migrants have been prevented from reaching the UK.”

Meanwhile Downing Street sought to dampen speculation the UK had reached a preliminary agreement with the European Union to access the bloc’s Frontex border agency.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The negotiations are ongoing. There’s been no text of an agreement agreed.

“We hope to achieve a deal that works for both us and our European neighbours, considering this is a European challenge.”

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