Migrant crossings: Two Border Force cutters sent to English Channel, Sajid Javid announces

‘When it comes to human life, clearly I want to make sure that we are doing all we can to protect people’

Jon Sharman
Monday 31 December 2018 18:49
Dover MP says Navy should not be dealing with migrant crisis

Two UK Border Force cutters will be redeployed to the English Channel from overseas, Sajid Javid has announced.

It comes after more than 100 people attempted to migrate across the sea from France during the Christmas period.

On New Year’s Eve a group of 12 people who said they were Iranian, including a 10-year-old child and two women, was detained on a beach at Greatstone in Kent, the Home Office said.

Mr Javid cut short his Christmas break to deal with what the government has declared a “major incident”.

Campaigners have accused ministers of blowing the crossings “out of proportion”. Nevertheless, the home secretary said on Monday that the issue remained a “very serious concern”.

About 230 migrants had sought to cross the Channel in December but “just under half have actually been disrupted by the French and never actually made it in terms of leaving the French coast”, he said.

Speaking after a meeting with senior officials from the National Crime Agency and Border Force, he said: “It’s both about protecting human life but also about protecting our borders.

“When it comes to human life, clearly I want to make sure that we are doing all we can to protect people.

“We must remember that this is one of the most treacherous stretches of water that there is, 21 miles with people taking grave risk, really putting their lives into their own hands by taking this journey.”

He added: “I have made a decision today to redeploy two of the Border Force’s largest vessels, known as cutters, from abroad back to the UK, to southeast England, and they will be joining a cutter that is already there and two other coastal patrol vessels.

“This will help both with the human side of this situation but also to better protect our borders.”

The Home Office said it continually reviewed the deployment of the six cutters belonging to the Border Force. It will keep one in the Mediterranean to support the Frontex European humanitarian mission, it added.

Earlier on Monday Mr Javid admitted there were “no easy answers” to the crossings, in which migrants risk their lives in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

“The reasons behind the increased crossings are complicated, and in many cases outside of our control,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Fellow Conservatives had accused him of lacking urgency and on Sunday the home secretary agreed an “enhanced action plan” with his French counterpart, Christophe Castaner.

Additional reporting by PA

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in