Border force vessels redeployed in response to migrant crossings in Channel

A Border Force vessel. Picture:  Victoria Jones/PA Wire
A Border Force vessel. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
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Two Border Force cutters will be redeployed from the Mediterranean to the English Channel in response to the sudden increase in the number of migrants making the dangerous crossing from France.

Two Border Force cutters will be redeployed from the Mediterranean to the English Channel in response to the sudden increase in the number of migrants making the dangerous crossing from France.

Announcing the move, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said it was a “very serious concern” that a growing number of people were seeking to cross “one of the most treacherous streches of water there is”.

The redeployment came as another group of migrants including a 10 year-old boy was detained on Monday after landing on a beach in Kent.

Mr Javid held talks with Whitehall chiefs on Monday after cutting short a family holiday in South Africa to take personal control of the situation, which has seen almost 100 migrants cross the Channel in dinghies and other small craft over the Christmas period.

But writing in the Daily Telegraph ahead of the decision, he admitted that many of the factors pushing migrants to make the dangerous crossing were “out of our control”, with conflict in the Middle East and organised crime networks across Europe adding to the flow of people into the UK.

Mr Javid said: “While we have obligations to genuine asylum seekers... we will not stand by and allow reckless criminals to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our global society.”

READ MORE: Sajid Javid declares ‘major incident’ over small groups of migrants crossing Channel

The Home Office confirmed a group of 12 migrants including a 10-year-old child were detained after landing on a Kent beach early on New Year’s Eve. Nine men, two women and the child are believed to have arrived at Greatstone in a black dinghy on Monday morning.

Witnesses described seeing a large police presence along the quiet stretch of coastline.

Kent Police said officers were called at 8.16am to a report of a group of suspected migrants. A Home Office spokesman said: “Border Force officers were deployed to assist with a group of 12 migrants at Greatstone, Kent.

“The group consisted of nine men, two women and a 10-year-old child. They have presented themselves as Iranian nationals.

“They all received a medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.”

In phone talks on Sunday, which the Home Office described as “significant and productive”, Mr Javid and his French counterpart Christophe Castaner agreed to ramp up co-operation to stop the crossings.

An “enhanced action plan” to be launched this week will include increased joint patrols and surveillance, disruption of organised trafficking gangs and efforts to raise awareness among migrants of the dangers of a Channel crossing. They also agreed to meet face-to-face in January to assess whether further action is required.

But Mr Javid faced accusations of over-egging the scale of the problem, with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott claiming that “people are being whipped up about migration issues, because the Government thinks this is the best way of frightening people to vote for their [Brexit] deal.”

Nicola Sturgeon claimed that “making it out to be a crisis for the rest of us so that he can then act tough is more about the Home Secretary’s political ambitions.”

British Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson urged the Government to provide migrants with “safe alternatives” to risking the “harrowing” Channel crossing.

He said: “People only attempt perilous journeys like crossing the Channel because they are desperate. It is deeply concerning that men, women and children feel they have no choice but to put their lives at risk in their search for a safe place to live.”