Send Channel migrants back to France or risk catastrophe: Ex-immigration chief condemns ‘taxi service’ after 300 arrive in two months by smugglers’ boats – and it emerges only ONE Navy cutter patrols UK waters
Boat migrants crossing the Channel must be sent straight back to France to avert a tragedy, according to a former senior Home Office official.
David Wood, who was head of immigration enforcement, warned lives would be lost unless the Government adopted a new approach.
There were a further 34 attempted crossings overnight yesterday, bringing the total number rescued from the Channel since November to 300 and 82 since Christmas Day.
It is feared people smugglers are targeting the holiday period because they believe there will be fewer patrols. Just one cutter is patrolling UK waters, aided by two smaller craft.
‘We have to stop this or it will grow and grow. It will escalate. The answer is to return them to France as soon as they are picked up,’ Mr Wood said. ‘If we did that straight away, they would realise that paying £5,000 to the people smugglers would achieve nothing.’
Criticising the Home Office’s handling of the crisis, Mr Wood told the Daily Telegraph: ‘As far as organised crime is concerned, it’s de-risked their business.
‘They know they don’t have to get right across the Channel and land, they can get half way across and the migrants will be taken the rest of the way.
‘Given that the immigrants travelled from France, it would not be unlawful if the French agreed. In theory, under the Dublin agreement, there are circumstances when immigrants can be returned to France even when landed in the UK.
‘Britain’s border force, coastguards and lifeboats are being used as a taxi service for the migrants. There will be a hue and cry when a boat full of 12 migrants sinks and they die.’
Nine Iranians, including three children, were found on a beach in Kent yesterday after crossing the world’s busiest shipping lane in darkness in a 13ft dinghy. Another 14 Iranian men were stopped in two boats near Dover, and French authorities intercepted another 11 people as they set out from Calais, where five needed treatment for hypothermia.
The boats have also been helped by calm seas and a full moon.