LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and France on Saturday signed a new agreement to try to stop illegal migration across the Channel, increasing patrols and technology in hopes of closing a dangerous route used by migrants in an attempt to reach the UK on small boats.
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said as part of the deal the number of agents patrolling French beaches would double and new equipment including drones and radars would be used.
This year hundreds of people, including children, were caught crossing southern England from makeshift camps in northern France – using one of the world’s busiest shipping routes in overloaded inflatable boats. Some migrants drowned.
Patel said in a statement that the deal represented a step forward in the couple’s mission to make canal crossings unsustainable.
“Thanks to more police patrols on French beaches and better information sharing between our security services and law enforcement, we are already seeing fewer migrants leaving French beaches,” she said. .
The UK and France plan to continue a close dialogue to reduce migratory pressures at the common border over the next year, she added.
Patel told British media that French authorities have so far prevented 5,000 migrants from reaching the UK this year. She said that over the past ten years, the UK has given France £ 150million to fight immigration.
She said authorities’ recent focus on stopping small boats meant they now saw more migrants trying to cross the Channel by truck, and border security was being stepped up in France to try to stop that.
Britain is also considering introducing a new asylum system through legislation next year, Patel said.