01 DEC 2016

Working hard to make our borders stronger and more secure

Last week more migrants arrived at Dover in a small craft. The seven men – all believed to be Iranian – were rescued after being spotted shivering in a dinghy off the coast.

This was yet another sign of the extreme lengths people will go to break into Britain. Crossing the English Channel in a small boat as winter sets in is about as dangerous as it gets. Earlier this month a man tried to do the same in a kayak. Amazingly he is thought to have made it all the way from Calais without any help. He survived, as did the seven men in the dinghy last week. But how many are not so lucky? It just goes to show the sheer desperation of so many people to reach our shores.

That's why I met with Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill last week, demanding a strong police presence is kept up in Calais. Of course, dismantling the Jungle camp was a huge step in restoring order at the border. The number of attacks on Dover-bound tourists and truckers at Calais has plummeted – as has the number of migrants smuggled across the Channel through our port. For the people of Calais, their town is at long last returning to normal.

Dismantling the Jungle was a hammer blow in our war against the people traffickers and their evil trade of modern slavery. Closing the camp means the hundreds of children and vulnerable people will now spend Christmas in a safer home, far from the traffickers, rather than freezing in the Jungle mud.

But seeing more migrants turn up at Dover in small craft reminds us that the war to secure our borders is far from over. It's clear that although the Jungle camp has gone – we now need to be more vigilant than ever. Last week's incident underlines the need to ensure we scan our seas for people traffickers, protect our borders and strengthen our intelligence effort with France.

Dover is both gateway and guardian of the kingdom. Making sure our border is strong and that trade flows through smoothly is vital. I wanted to see first-hand how this is working, so I recently visited the border controls at Dover. I was really impressed to see how Border Force officers were able to smoke out a smuggler who had stashed thousands of illegal cigarettes in a car. Our border officers do vital work stopping dodgy goods, drugs and guns from being brought into Britain.

This was a great spot by the officers. But it was also clear to me that, going forward, sharing information on crooks and working together with the intelligence services will become ever more important in keeping our border secure. The only way to truly win the war against the people traffickers is to make it impossible to break in to Britain. Keeping watch over our seas this Christmas will also save lives.

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Charlie Elphicke

Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!

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