Home Office resumes responsibility for stopping small boat crossings in English Channel

Migrants Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Home Office is resuming responsibility for operations to tackle small boats carrying migrants across the Channel after eight months under the leadership of the Royal Navy.

The move follows the creation announced last month of the new small boats operational command (SBOC), bringing together military and civilian staff and the National Crime Agency to co-ordinate the Government’s response.

The Home Office said the SBOC – which uses drones, boats and land-based radar and cameras to track and disrupt people traffickers – will be bolstered with the recruitment of 730 additional staff.

Then prime minister Boris Johnson originally handed leadership for operations in the Channel to the Navy as a temporary measure last April but migrants continued to arrive in record numbers.

A Government spokesman said the return of responsibility to the Home Office was a "significant landmark" in the long term to ensure the safety and sovereignty of the UK’s borders and communities.

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