Home secretary vows to stop illegal Channel crossings

  • Published
Priti PatelImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Priti Patel said she continues to work with her French counterparts to tackle illegal Channel crossings

Home Secretary Priti Patel says she is "determined" to stop illegal Channel crossings by migrants.

On Friday 73 migrants were intercepted in the Channel and those landing in Dover were given face masks amid concerns about reports of a coronavirus outbreak in migrant camps near Calais.

At least 470 people have attempted to cross the Channel illegally since Britain went into lockdown on 23 March.

Ms Patel said: "I am determined to stop this criminal trade."

Charities have called on the UK government to "create safe and legal routes" for those seeking sanctuary.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The Home Office said coronavirus had not affected its response to Channel crossings

The home secretary said protecting British borders was a priority.

'Stop chasing unicorns'

"I will not stand by whilst malicious criminals prey on the vulnerable.

"Criminal gangs are using false promises to take advantage of desperate situations and illegally smuggle people into the UK.

"I am determined to stop this criminal trade," she said.

"We are continuing to support the French to deploy extra patrols on French beaches, drones, specialist vehicles and detection equipment to stop these boats leaving European shores," she added.

"I will always make sure that Border Force have the resources needed to tackle these dangerous crossings and keep our border secure."

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, said: "The home secretary needs to stop chasing unicorns and level with the public.

"The only way to eliminate boat crossings and put people smugglers out of business is to create safe and legal routes for those seeking sanctuary."

Follow BBC South East on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram. Send your story ideas to southeasttoday@bbc.co.uk.