Calls for more cooperation with French as migrant crossings reach 'crisis' point

Video report by ITV News Meridian's John Ryall


There are calls for more cooperation between UK and French authorities as ITV News Meridian captured footage of boatloads of migrants heading to Dover on Thursday (6 Aug).

One dinghy, designed for four people, was packed with migrants - some not wearing life jackets but holding inflatables.

One man was so desperate, that he threw himself into the water and attempted to reach the boat the ITV crew were filming from.

3,722

migrants are known to have reached the UK in 280 boats so far in 2020

The former Immigration Minister and MP for Ashford, Damian Green, says we have to do more to work with France if the trade in people smuggling is to be halted.

I think the only long-term solution is better cooperation with the French. They need to be stopped before they get to the French ports. However many boats you have, if people are prepared to try and get across the Channel, some small boats will get across.

Damian Green MP, Former Immigration Minister

The former head of Border Force, Tony Smith, says the scenes on Thursday represent a "crisis".

Meanwhile, Labour say the Government needs to "get a grip", but the Government says that French authorities need to do more.

The boats were spotted in the early hours of Thursday morning. Credit: ITV News Meridian

So far this year more than 3,700 migrants are known to have reached the UK in 280 boats.

A new daily record of 202 migrants in 20 boats was set on July 30.

Smugglers were charging migrants up to £10,000 per person per crossing, but as the trade has become more competitive, a passage on a boat from Calais can now cost £4,000.

A Border Force cutter intercepts a dinghy full of migrants as it makes its way to Dover. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The current weather is providing near-perfect conditions at sea, making the 20 mile crossing desirable for people-smuggling gangs.

With just seven weeks of summer left, it is going to be a busy time for the Coastguard, Border Force and the RNLI.