French police have been filmed slashing inflatable dinghies and using pepper spray on migrants as they attempted to cross the English Channel this morning.
The group, which included Albanian and Iraqi Kurd migrants, were trying to launch the boat from a beach near Dunkirk, according to Channel 4 News. They were forced to abandon their attempt because of the police intervention.
Footage of the attempt at around 8.30am showed the large group of mainly men running quickly across the sand towards the ocean, while carrying the black dinghy.
Most are seen wearing red or orange life vets, while some are seen without.
However, a police buggy intercepted the migrants – who still had some distance to cover before reaching the water – with officers stopping them in their tracks.
Pictured: This is the moment a French police officer (right) slashed an inflatable dingy, stopping a group of migrants from reaching the English Channel
‘So we’ve got about 40 or 50 people,’ Channel 4’s reporter Paraic O’Brien says in the clip, narrating the scene as it unfolds.
‘The police buggy has just turned up to try and stop them.’
Four French border patrol officers are shown jumping off the buggy and blocking the route of those carrying the dinghy. One officer runs up to the inflated boat and slashes it with a knife. A loud ‘pop’ can be heard, and it begins to deflate rapidly.
A man wearing a grey hoody is seen grabbing the arm of the police officer slashing the boat. The officer, along with a colleague, reacts by spraying the man in the face from point-blank range – causing the man to run away from the boat.
Realising that their route to the ocean is blocked and the boat has been rendered useless, the group of migrants begin to run from the officers back up the beach.
‘A large group of migrants were confronted by three French police officers. We were told that drone, funded by the UK, had first detected the group,’ O’Brien said after the incident. ‘After police slashed the dinghy with a knife, one of the migrants tried to prevent them from cutting it again, that’s when the pepper spray came out.’
Release of the footage comes as it was revealed a record number of migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats this month, and as the total for this year passed 23,000.
Footage of the crossing attempt (pictured) showed the large group of mainly men and boys running quickly across the sands towards the ocean, while carrying the black dinghy
Four French border officers were seen jumping off their buggy and blocking the route of the migrants carrying the dinghy. ‘So we’ve got about 40 or 50 people,’ Channel 4’s reporter says, narrating the scene as it unfolds. ‘The police buggy has just turned up to try and stop them’
One officer (right) runs up to the inflated boat and slashes it. A loud ‘pop’ can be heard, and it begins to deflate rapidly. He is then seen wrestling with one of the men carrying the boat
Pictured: Two French border officers are shown pepper-spraying one of the migrants from point-blank range, causing the man to run away from the boat covering his eyes
Realising that their route to the ocean is blocked and the boat has been rendered useless, the group of migrants begin to run from the officers back up the beach (pictured)
According to official figures from the British government, 6,887 people have made the dangerous journey across the 21-mile Dover Straits so far in August alone – making it the busiest month since the current records began in 2018.
And despite the windy and wet weather, it is believed that more than 400 migrants made the journey to British soil on Thursday alone.
A huge number of vessels set off from the French coast every week, despite about 800 daily patrols taking place along 100-miles of coast in northern France.
French patrol officers are reportedly being overwhelmed by migrants who arrive on beaches in ‘a flash-mob manner’, sometimes in their hundreds, and even become violent according to French authorities.
The influx in crossings is partly due to smugglers trying to clear their backlogs after bad weather prevented any boats from making the trip for several days.
Making the crossing later in the year also becomes more difficult as the conditions become rougher.
Many of the French officers who are meant to stop boats sailing to the UK are also on their summer holidays, making it even easier for the boats to avoid detection.
At least 40 migrants wearing waterproof orange ponchos were brought to shore at Dungeness, Kent by the RNLI
In an attempt to combat the growing problem, British Home Secretary Priti Patel has put deals worth more than £80million in place with France over the past three years.
The deals were intended to lower the number of crossings by increasing patrols and providing surveillance equipment on the French coastline.
However, in a statement issued to The Times, the Hauts-de-France prefecture, that is responsible for the patrol officers, claimed that the British still owed €10million – or £8.4million.
The region’s communication office said: ‘The difficulties are compounded by the fact that the British are not reimbursing the expenditure undertaken to contribute to the protection of the border as well as the security of the migrants.
‘Several million euros are owed to France by GB as of today (including almost €10 million to pay for the reserve gendarmes and the airborne surveillance).’
It said that more than 60 per cent of attempted crossings had been stopped this year but their ability to detect and prevent crossing has reached its limit in some areas of ‘heavy pressure’.
A source from the Home Office – which oversees border enforcement – told The Times they will honour ‘every last penny’ that it has agreed to pay the French.
Natalie Elphicke, British MP for Dover, said: ‘France have a moral and international obligation to protect vulnerable people, save lives, stop people smugglers and tackle organised crime. They should not need to be paid to do their duty.
‘It is even more ridiculous that we pay them tens of millions of pounds and get so little in return. This is a shocking waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
‘Sorting out the small boats crisis must be a key priority of the next Prime Minister.’
Today, more than 400 migrants have arrived – among them were a number of young children and babies. Pictured: A woman carries a child ashore in Dover
The total number of migrants who have crossed the Channel this year is now over 23,000, last year’s final tally was 28,526
The record number came as the U.K. announced plans to ‘fast-track’ the deportation of failed Albanian asylum-seekers.
British immigration officers will immediately process asylum claims made by Albanians entering the U.K. on small boats, and those with no right to remain in the country will be removed ‘as soon as possible,’ according to the Home Office.
The agency wants to dissuade Albanians from making the risky crossing in inflatable boats by demonstrating that they won’t be allowed to live and work in Britain.
That message is also being delivered through a series of Albanian-language ads on social media sites.
‘Large numbers of Albanians are being sold lies by ruthless people-smugglers and vicious organized crime gangs, leading them to take treacherous journeys in flimsy boats to the U.K.,’ Ms Patel said in a statement.
‘This abuse of our immigration system and people risking their lives cannot go on.’
The number of Albanians crossing the Channel on small boats has soared in recent months, even though Britain considers Albania a ‘safe and prosperous country,’ according to Home Office statistics released Thursday.
Pictured: Migrants in Dover on a Border Force vessel on Wednesday as it emerged French authorities have been mounting fewer patrols to tackle Channel migrants because gendarmes are on holiday
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture date: July 18, 2022.
Some 2,165 Albanians arrived in Britain via this route in the first six months of 2022, compared with just 23 in the same period last year.
Overall, 12,747 people entered the U.K. on small boats during the first half of the year, more than double the year-earlier figure.
Albanians are now tied with Afghans as the biggest nationalities arriving on small boats, with each accounting for 18% of the total.
The Home Office publicity campaign will seek to reverse this trend by warning migrants that they face possible deportation to Rwanda and increased prison sentences for immigration offenses.
The ads also provide information on safe immigration routes and advice to apply for asylum in the first safe country a migrant reaches.
The measures were announced after meetings between Patel and her Albanian counterpart, Minister for Interior Affairs Bledi Cuci.
He said the two ministers also discussed ways to provide more opportunities for Albanian laborers and skilled professionals to work legally in the U.K. ‘We discourage these illegal and dangerous practices,’ Cuci said of the small boat crossings.
What happens when someone arrives in the UK after crossing the Channel?
By Rory Tingle for MailOnline
The vast majority of people crossing the Channel in small boats claim asylum, according to the Refugee Council. At this point the process for what happens varies depending on whether they are an adult, unaccompanied minor or a family unit.
1 – Immediately transferred to a short-term holding facility dotted around the country, generally in southern England. Fingerprints are taken and they have a screening interview where they provide their name, date of birth and nationality. This registers them into the asylum system.
2 – One or two days later the asylum seekers would usually be sent to a hostel run by the Home Office, but in the last few years these have become full so officials are using hotels.
3 – Two to three weeks later they are dispersed to a town or city anywhere in the UK into ‘housing in the community’ – although these time scales have stretched recent years. In addition, dispersal accommodation has often been full so the Home Office has relied on rented accommodation from three private providers. The asylum seekers receive housing and £39.63 a week as a cash allowance.
4 – The asylum seekers are issued with a form called a preliminary information questionnaire (PIC) where they are asked why they have a fear of persecution. At some point they are invited to the Home Office for substantive interview where they will be asked questions based on information from their screening interview and PIC form.
5 – If the initial decision is a refusal, the applicant can appeal to an independent tribunal. Their accommodation and support would continue.
6 – If they get an initial refusal and they don’t appeal or their appeal is refused they become what’s known in official jargon as ‘appeal rights exhausted’. The Home Office will send them a letter saying they will be evicted and the weekly support will stop.
7 – They have the option of signing up to the Voluntary Return Scheme, under which the Home Office will pay for their flights. If they don’t sign up they are liable to being picked up and detained by immigration officers and perhaps forcibly removed. But they are not enough detention spaces for people in that situation so they often become homeless and destitute, the Refugee Council said.
Children (under 18) are sent to a short term holding facility for a much shorter amount of time and then transferred into the care of a local authority. They are allocated a social worker and accomodation.
The Home Office cannot remove minors if they have been separated from their parents. However, if their asylum claim is unsuccessful they could be given a form of leave to remain until they are 17 and a half.
The only slight difference is that if a family become an ‘appeal rights exhausted’ case the Home Office wouldn’t evict them from the accommodation or stop their financial support.