The UK Border Agency has announced that the Government will invest a further £15 million to strengthen its border controls in France, under a declaration signed with the French government yesterday.
The additional funding will be used to pilot extra security controls and technology at Calais, which will be rolled out to other French ports if successful. In return, the French government will increase the number of flights used to return illegal migrants home from northern France.
Since 2004, an agreement on ‘juxtaposed controls’ has enabled United Kingdom immigration officers to carry out immigration checks at certain locations in France. Now the UK Border Agency will work alongside French police to create a single control point in France, using advanced technology to increase the number of vehicle checks. If they suspect untoward activity, our officers will then search the vehicle (using body detection dogs and other equipment) to locate and remove any illegal migrants.
Additionally, UK Border Agency officers will come together with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and police agencies on both sides of the Channel in a single intelligence unit, which will crack down on the criminals behind illegal migration through Calais.
Cooperation between the United Kingdom and France has already turned Calais into one of the strongest border crossings in the world. In the past five years, almost 90,000 attempts to enter the United Kingdom illegally have been stopped by our immigration staff in France – and more than two-thirds of these attempts were stopped in Calais.
Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, who was one of the signatories to the 6 July declaration, said:
‘We have one of the strongest borders in the world, and today’s agreement has made it even more secure.
‘An extra £15 million has been invested to pay for new technology as part of a hi-tech pilot in Calais. This will see the latest state-of-the-art technology being used to boost searches of vehicles and goods heading for Britain. The UK Border Agency will roll out the latest detection technology to ports in Boulogne, Dunkirk and Coquelles.
‘The French government is determined to return more illegal migrants by stepping up removal flights. The UK recognises this effort and maintains its own commitment to removing foreign nationals with no right to be in the UK.
‘Last year we stopped 28,000 individual attempts to cross the Channel, and searched one million lorries – these changes will further strengthen the ring of steel that protects Britain.’
Leading think tank, ippr, said it would it would take at least 20 years to find and remove the then estimated half a million illegal immigrants already in the UK.
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