UK Home Secretary Priti Patel said under the deal signed on Saturday the number of agents patrolling French beaches would double and new equipment, including drones and radars, would be used .
“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. .
Amnesty International called the deal “deeply disappointing”.
Aid and human rights groups have said the best way to stop travel is to provide safe routes for those seeking asylum in the UK.
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 and refugees drowned.
Patel and his French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, said they wanted to make the road unsustainable.
Signing of a new agreement 🇬🇧🇫🇷 to tackle crossings by small boats.
It will be:
🔹 Double number of police officers on beaches in France
🔹 Increase surveillance with cutting edge technology
🔹 Improve port security
🔹 Provide accommodation for migrants in France https://t.co/vjG1KiTkep pic.twitter.com/COJ1jncjcC
– Priti Patel (@pritipatel) November 28, 2020
The UK and France plan to continue a close dialogue to reduce migration pressures at the shared border over the next year, Patel said.
She told British media that French authorities have so far prevented 5,000 migrants from reaching the UK this year. Patel said that over the past 10 years the UK has given France £ 150m ($ 177.9m) to fight immigration.
She said authorities’ recent emphasis on stopping small boats meant they now saw more migrants trying to cross the Channel via freight trucks, and border security was being stepped up in France to try to stop this.
The UK is also planning to introduce a new asylum system through legislation next year, Patel said.
The Detention Action charity also sharply criticized the deal. The organization’s director, Bella Sankey, said there was an urgent need to create safe and legal migration routes instead.