New intelligence cell to crack down on illegal Channel crossings
Welcome to my latest update on the UK and France's efforts to tackle illegal Channel crossings.
Over the weekend, a shocking number of people tried to illegally enter the UK. Around 180 migrants were intercepted by Border Force patrols off the British coast, and more than 200 people were intercepted by French authorities and prevented from reaching the UK.
The unacceptably high numbers of people making this dangerous journey in small boats, demonstrates the need for the UK and France to work closely together to tackle this reprehensible practice of human trafficking.
That's why I am pleased that on Sunday, the Home Secretary Priti Patel met the new French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin and agreed to set up a new intelligence cell to tackle illegal Channel crossings by small boats.
The new Franco-British Operational Research Unit will combat migrant smuggling by collating, centralising and analysing operational intelligence to prevent crossings from taking place and to dismantle the gangs behind them. It will be staffed by French and UK officers and will feed into the already established teams working tirelessly to end the illegally-facilitated crossings.
I also welcome the Home Secretary's and French Interior Minister's statement reaffirming their shared commitment to returning boats in the Channel to France, rather than allowing them to reach the UK.
This is an important step in tackling this serious criminal trade and protecting those who are making the dangerous crossing, who are very often being exploited by these abhorrent smuggling gangs.
I will continue to monitor this issue and keep you informed about the UK's efforts to tackle the unacceptable number of illegal Channel crossings. If you want to know more about the UK and France's efforts, then read my previous update on the issue.