29 SEP 2016

We need new Dover Patrol to catch traffickers on high seas

Last weekend three migrants in a dinghy landed on the beach at Walmer. They were spotted by a man out walking his dog. Visiting the scene I was left deeply concerned that there will be a tragedy on the English Channel with rougher seas as winter approaches. The three men in a boat turned out to be Iranian and have claimed asylum.

So it is welcome that President Hollande this week said he will dismantle the Calais migrant camp. Yet we've heard it all before. Last time, the French Government made a half-hearted attempt and dismantled a small section. The numbers simply grew ever more quickly to the current 10,000. It is vital to the future of Dover and Calais that the Jungle is dismantled.

It is no good President Hollande seeking to play the blame game on this dreadful situation. He says Britain must "play its part" in managing the migrant crisis. Yet we have already made a strong financial contribution. British taxpayers have paid tens of millions of pounds for walls and fences in Calais.

It's now a greater priority to invest in border security at Dover – to find people who are being trafficked and contraband at our docks. The arrival of yet another dinghy from France highlights the need to invest in security on the English Channel too. Migrants are found landing on the beaches of Dover and Deal in small craft on a monthly, if not weekly basis – who knows how many more arrive undetected?

What is needed is a clear plan on which both the British and French Governments work together to put an end to this shameful situation for once and for all.

The Jungle should be properly dismantled and the people there moved to places of safety far from Calais. President Hollande says this will happen and it is welcome. Yet they need to be sure the people there won't simply sneak back to Calais.

The migrants should be helped back to their home nations. Any asylum claims should be processed and failed asylum seekers should be repatriated.

The people traffickers must be targeted. Make no mistake – these evil modern slavers are at the heart of this crisis. Britain and France must work together to target the trafficking gangs and smash their networks.

We should protect tourists, truckers and trade at Calais. The attacks we have seen with chainsaw wielding, tree throwing, petrol bombing traffickers are totally unacceptable. There is a real danger of a tragedy.

And we must set up a new Dover Patrol on our English Channel. We should increase the budget for the Border Force and ensure we have more than three ships to guard 7,000 miles of coastline.

With strong cooperation and a clear plan, Britain and France together can restore order at the border for good and beat the people traffickers. Ending the evil trade of modern slavery is the most important battle of our times.


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Charlie Elphicke

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