03 APR 2019

Calling on ministers to step up security in the Channel

I have called on ministers to step up security in the English Channel following a recent spike in attempts by migrants to cross in small boats. The Home Office responded confirming aerial surveillance is in place to deter people trafficking and 20 migrants have been returned to France. But I insisted aerial surveillance must be 24/7 – and more migrants should be returned.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes responded: "My Honourable Friend is right to emphasise that it absolutely is people traffickers and organised crime gangs who are encouraging people to make these extremely perilous crossings.

"We do deploy aerial surveillance but the House will appreciate that I will not be able to discuss these covert assets in detail.

"He is right to emphasise that we are working with a number of member states including France to facilitate returns and around 20 individuals who have crossed via small boat have been returned to date. Further returns are in progress."

I am concerned the better weather will lead to even more attempts to cross the Channel.

We must focus on the ruthless people traffickers who prey on vulnerable people. The only way to stop them is ensuring they can't successfully smuggle anyone into the UK.

That's why the Channel should be made a joint security zone with aerial surveillance, so we can find and return boats safely back to the French coast.

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Charlie Elphicke

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