UK urges France to crack down on migrant crossings

The UK will press French authorities to crack down on migrants attempting to cross the Channel in small boats, ministers have pledged.

A record number of unaccompanied children arrived in the UK on Friday.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the government was also considering how to use “maritime assets” in order to prevent crossings.

And, writing in the Daily Telegraph, Immigration Minister Chris Philp said migrants should be fingerprinted.

He said migrants would know “they face real consequences if they try to cross again”, and added he will “negotiate hard” with French officials about how to deal with the crossings.

BBC reporter Simon Jones, in Dover, said the coastguard has been dealing with a number of incidents this morning.

He said that local people have been asking why more was not being done by the French to patrol the coastline, but authorities across the Channel have said they need more finances from the UK government.

Questions have also been raised about why once people arrive in the UK they are not sent back to France.

‘Loophole’

Home Secretary Priti Patel has described the situation as “complex”, saying in a tweet on Friday that the government faces “serious legislative, legal and operational barriers”.

The Home Office said the Royal Navy could be brought in to patrol the Channel’s migrant traffic.

Asked about this, Mr Gibb told BBC Breakfast the government would look at how it could “use maritime assets”.

Mr Gibb added: “We are determined to tackle it, from a humanitarian point of view as much as from an immigration point of view.”

But former director general of UK Border Force, Tony Smith, said that smugglers have identified a “loophole” in international law.

The UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention says that once a person is in the jurisdiction of a country – such as territorial waters – then authorities are obliged to rescue people, bring them ashore, and allow them to lodge an asylum application, Mr Smith told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

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