Channel deaths: Boris Johnson sets out five-point plan to address crossings following tragedy

Boris Johnson has offered to work with France to “move further and faster” in order to tackle small boat crossings and avoid a repeat of the “appalling tragedy” in the Channel that left 27 people dead.

The prime minister has written to President Emmanuel Macron and set out five steps he thinks both sides should take “as soon as possible”:

• Joint patrols to prevent boats from leaving French beaches
• Using more advanced technology such as sensors and radar
• Carry out reciprocal maritime patrols in each nation’s territorial waters and utilise airborne surveillance
• “Deepening the work” of the Joint Intelligence Cell and ensuring there is better intelligence sharing to drive more arrests and prosecutions
• Committing to “immediate work” to strike a bilateral returns agreement between Paris and London, as well as discussions on a UK-EU agreement

Mr Johnson’s letter comes after 27 people – 17 men, seven women and two teenage boys and a girl – died near Calais on Wednesday while trying to cross the English Channel in a flimsy boat.

“If those who reach this country were swiftly returned the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be significantly reduced,” Mr Johnson said.

“This would be the single biggest step we could take together to reduce the draw to Northern France and break the business model of criminal gangs.

“I am confident that by taking these steps and building on our existing cooperation we can address illegal migration and prevent more families from experiencing the devastating loss we saw yesterday.”

The PM said that having spoken to the French president in the wake of Wednesday’s tragedy “I know President Macron recognises, as I do, the urgency of the situation we are both facing”.

Meanwhile, police said an adult male had been found on a beach in between Calais and Sangatte. However, it is not known if it’s connected to Wednesday’s tragedy.

Wednesday’s loss of life is the worst of the migrant crisis, which has seen numbers reaching the UK by sea increase from 8,417 in 2020 to more than 25,000 so far this year.

A government minister revealed last week that just five people had been returned to Europe after crossing the sea on small boats.

Deportations as a whole – not just for people who cross the Channel – are at a historic low.

In the year to June 2021 they decreased to 2,910 – less than half the previous year. The government blamed the drop on the pandemic.

(c) Sky News 2021: Channel deaths: Boris Johnson sets out five-point plan to address crossings following tragedy


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