A treaty with France is necessary to fight against the crossings of migrants, according to the former boss of the border forces


The UK needs a new treaty with France to tackle the current migrant crossings crisis rather than calling on the navy, according to a former border force chief. Tony Smith said the law needs to change with potentially a “matching” arrangement on processing asylum claims in order to sabotage smugglers’ efforts to maintain small boat crossings.

Speaking to the PA News Agency, he said: “The Navy would give us more assets on the waterways because we only have a limited number of Border Force members.

Former British Border Force Chief Tony Smith (Tony Smith / Fortinus Global / PA)

“But, to pardon the pun, the Navy would be in the same boat as the Border Force in terms of policy.

“The only powers available are search and rescue and that’s what we do.”

Once migrants are on a British ship, they can apply for asylum in the UK, he said.

“We need a bilateral agreement between our government and the French government that any vessel picking up will bring them back to the port from which they left.

“The law must change to achieve this.

“The laws are in place to prevent people from drowning. They are required to rescue people found at sea and in distress. No one wants anyone to drown.

Mr Smith, who worked for law enforcement during another peak in migrant crossings between 2002 and 2004, said the numbers are not yet at the “epidemic proportions” seen at the time as tens of thousands of people tried to come to the country mainly by ferry.

But he warned that rate could be reached if daily crossings continued to number in the hundreds.

Problems with adopting a treaty were “feeding the supply chain” for smugglers who exploit legal loopholes, he said, adding: “I’m afraid we were not able to negotiate a deal with them. the French to stop the smuggling and without it, we will not be able to do it.

But he said there was potential for a “matching” arrangement where the government examines the options available to asylum seekers and how they make their claims, with the suggestion that these could be submitted from the France to remove the need to cross.

Human rights and asylum charities have repeatedly called for “safe and legal routes” to be made available to stop level crossings.

But there would need to be “hard rules” if they were introduced, he said.

He had “no doubt” that the ministers were “doing everything in their power to try to resolve this problem” but added: “We will need an agreement with the French and it is not entirely between our hands.”

The Home Office has said it wants to return as many migrants as possible, with activists warning that a deportation charter flight is scheduled for Wednesday to France and Germany.

Bella Sankey, director of the Detention Action charity, told the AP: “Sending traumatized asylum seekers who fled deadly regimes in France or Germany at the height of a global pandemic is a sign of a government that has lost its moral compass and is losing quickly. the parcel.

“Britain has been hosting refugees for centuries and has earned its reputation as a beacon of hope and justice.”

Meanwhile, Commons Defense Committee Chairman Tobias Ellwood told TalkRadio that “turning a blind eye to support for ‘war-torn countries’ will come to haunt us.”

Previously, Interior Ministry officials launched an attack on what they called “militant lawyers” who they said were frustrating efforts to send migrants back to France with “vexatious claims”.

They also denounced “rigid and rigid” asylum regulations which, she said, “are not suited to their objectives”.

Ms Patel – who vowed last year that crossings would now become a ‘rare phenomenon’ – previously sought to blame her counterparts on the continent by revealing that the UK and French governments were stuck in a row on interpretation maritime law. .

On Twitter on Friday, she once again called the number of level crossings appalling, excessively high and “shameful”, saying there were “serious legislative, legal and operational barriers” while reiterating her call for cooperation the French.

Mr. Ellwood agrees that the government must “work closely with France”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s PM show: “It has been argued, in fact, that Dublin regulations state that anyone seeking asylum must do so in a safe country.

“France is very safe, and yet here they are. We see so many people on this trip.

“But I’m also arguing, what I think you are implying, that we will not solve this problem simply by improving the protection of our coasts.

“There are criminal gangs that make millions by developing human trafficking chains leading all the way to Africa, all the way to the Sahara, and until we start attacking ourselves, this problem will continue.”


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