British Border Force officers have started patrolling French beaches for the first time in cooperation with local staff in a bid to stem the flow of migrants crossing the English Channel, according to reports.
The first joint patrol took place just before Christmas after months of negotiations between British and French officials, the Telegraph reports.
The cooperative effort aims to provide British officers with increased real-time intelligence on the activities, tactics and movements of people smuggling migrants.
However, British officers embedded in French patrols are ‘observers’ only, meaning they will not have the right to exercise powers such as arresting someone for a criminal act.
The Ministry of Defense (MoD) has confirmed a record 45,756 migrants crossing the Channel to the UK in 2022.
The last voyages of the year were on Christmas Day when 90 people made the trip from France in two boats.
The provisional annual total for 2022 is a record, 60% higher than the 28,526 in 2021, but below the 60,000 Home Office officials previously estimated to be able to make the trip.
In the past 12 months, politicians have made a series of attempts to control the migration crisis amid a tumultuous period that has seen three prime ministers and three interior ministers.
Suella Braverman has recounted her “dream” of seeing the government’s plan to send immigrants to Rwanda succeed after her appointment to the Home Office, a policy that High Court judges ruled was legal but has so far been blocked by Legal procedures.
Since her predecessor Priti Patel signed the agreement in April, 40,460 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to introduce legislation in 2023 to make it “clear and unambiguous that if you enter the UK illegally, you should not be able to stay here.”
The number of migrants crossing the English Channel has risen steadily since 299 people were detected in 2018. There were 1,843 registered crossings in 2019 and 8,466 in 2020, according to the Home Office.
August last year was the highest month on record for crossings when 8,631 people arrived in the UK. On August 22, a record 1,295 migrants crossed in a single day on 27 boats.
The number of arrivals began to decrease towards the end of 2022, which could reflect seasonal changes due to weather conditions.
In December, 1,745 people made the trip, slightly less than the 1,770 registered in the last month of 2021.
The Defense Ministry said its data is pulled from “live operating systems” and is subject to change, “including downscaling.”
A government spokesman said: “The global migration crisis is putting unprecedented pressure on our asylum system.
“No one should put their lives at risk by taking dangerous and illegal journeys. We will go further to confront the gangs behind this, using every tool at our disposal to deter illegal migration and disrupt the business model of smugglers.
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