French Auditors Say British Don’t Help Tackle Illegal Migrant Crossings

French authorities have slammed the British for not properly cooperating in tackling illegal migrant crossings. According to French state auditors, the British “don’t provide usable information” on such matters.

Coordinating French-British Responses to Channel Crossings

French state auditors, the Cour des Comptes, have raised concerns about the inadequacy of coordination between the UK and France in addressing the persistent issue of small boat crossings in the English Channel.

This independent body, responsible for examining the use of public funds, recently published a report evaluating the effectiveness of French policies on illegal migration.

The findings revealed the challenges faced by France in developing cooperation arrangements with neighboring countries, particularly the UK.

Information Gaps and Operational Cooperation Challenges

The cornerstone of collaborative efforts between France and the UK in tackling illegal migration is the joint intelligence unit established in 2020. This unit aims to combat human smuggling and reduce the perilous crossings across the Channel.

Despite promises made by French and UK ministers to enhance joint efforts against criminal networks, the auditors discovered a significant information deficit. The UK was criticized for providing vague and unverified information on small boat departures, hampering the effectiveness of the collaborative intelligence unit.

Shortcomings in Information Exchange

The auditors highlighted specific deficiencies in the information provided by the UK, emphasizing the lack of details such as boat and motor references, serial numbers, and the nationalities of individuals attempting these crossings.

“The British don’t provide usable information on the departures of small boats and give very general, first-level information that has not been counter-checked,” it said. This informational imbalance was identified as a major hurdle in achieving a cooperative approach to addressing the issue of illegal migration.

Longstanding Challenges in Franco-British Relations

The report acknowledged the historical challenges in the relationship between France and the UK, particularly concerning migrants attempting to cross the Channel. The persistent crisis has strained collaborative efforts, as highlighted by a previous report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch. This report revealed difficulties in coordinating rescue efforts during a tragic Channel disaster in November 2021.

Despite the challenges, both France and the UK have made efforts to mitigate Channel crossings. France, in particular, has increased its commitment by deploying additional police and improving equipment and facilities.

The UK, as part of a bilateral agreement, provided substantial funding totaling €222m (£190m) from 2018 to 2022. However, the audit report indicated that the prevention rate for crossing attempts remained at 56% in 2022, unchanged from the previous year.

While the UK government reported a decrease in the number of migrants crossing in 2023, the Immigration Services Union anticipates a potential rise in such crossings this year. The union attributes the recent decline to adverse weather conditions and expects an increase once more favorable conditions prevail.

Safety Concerns and Tragic Incidents

The report drew attention to safety concerns associated with Channel crossings, emphasizing a tragic incident on December 15, where a boat carrying refugees encountered difficulties. Despite a period of no arrivals due to adverse weather, the audit noted that challenges persist, and safety remains a critical aspect of the Channel crossings.

The audit report extended its assessment beyond the Franco-British collaboration, delving into broader issues within French migration policies. It highlighted a lack of personnel for case processing and the need for additional staff to conduct thorough checks and data processing at border patrols.

The report also raised concerns about the frequent changes in French law and the tendency of the French interior ministry to issue decrees based on the news agenda.

The post French Auditors Say British Don’t Help Tackle Illegal Migrant Crossings first appeared on Pulse365 Limited.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sean Aidan Calderbank.

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