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Monday, June 17, 2024

Home Office to resume control of tackling migrant Channel crossings

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover onboard a Border Force vessel, following a small boat incident in the ChannelPA Media

The Home Office has taken back responsibility for overseeing operations to tackle small boats carrying migrants across the Channel.

The Royal Navy had been temporarily in charge for the past eight months, during which a record number of people made the journey from France.

More than 40,000 people have crossed the English Channel since last April.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said failure to stop the boats could cost the Conservatives the next election.

Tuesday’s change in operational control follows last month’s announcement that a new small boats operational command (SBOC) would be created to oversee the Channel crossings.

The unit, which brings together military and civilian staff and the National Crime Agency, plans to recruit 730 additional staff and invest in new vessels, drones and cameras to track the crossings and prevent tragedies at sea.

It also wants to identify those steering the boats with a view to prosecuting them.

The Home Office says the move is a “significant landmark” in ensuring the safety and sovereignty of the UK’s borders.

Ms Braverman issued a call on Tuesday for Conservative MPs to unite behind the prime minister’s plans to pass new laws to stop small boats.

  • Braverman faces criticism as migrant crisis worsens

The government would not be forgiven if it failed to stop the boats as this issue was of “huge frustration” to many people, she told The Daily Telegraph.

She added that the reputation of her party was “on the line” as this was “the last chance” for the government to deliver on its promise to curb illegal crossings.

“I think we need to stop the boats to win the election. No ifs, no buts,” she said.

Although the Ministry of Defence will still provide support to the operational command unit, department officials are likely to be relieved about relinquishing control, according to BBC South East reporter Simon Jones.

He says they will have been wary of the potential reputational damage of being seen as “little more than a taxi service for migrants trying to reach the UK”.

More than 1,100 migrants have reached the UK in small boats so far this year. A record 45,756 people succeeded in making the journey last year.

A government spokesman said the return of responsibility to the Home Office would ensure safety of Britain’s borders and communities in the long term.

“We are building on the progress already made through the new deal with France, and our determination will not waver until we stop the abuse of the asylum system and bring the smugglers responsible to justice,” he said.

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