The police reinforcements by Paris did not succeed in reducing the number of migrants crossing the English Channel towards Britain. Rather, the past two months witnessed an increase in the number of departures, as a result of the smugglers’ use of new methods.
The French departments of “Nord-de-Calais” and “Pas-de-Calais” recorded more boat departures in the English Channel during the past two months, compared to the same period last year.
The increase comes despite police reinforcements announced by the French Interior Ministry.
About 8,150 migrants in 180 boats attempted to cross the Channel between the beginning of June and the end of July, compared to about 7,700 migrants during the same period in 2022, according to figures issued by the Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea.
However, the police presence is increasing more and more along the coast, according to a police source to “Info Migrants” website, who added “The more our personnel are in the area, the more the attempts to migrate. It is a crazy situation. Our presence in the area does not mean that attempts to migrate have stopped, but rather It forces the smugglers to change their strategy, as they prefer to send more boats simultaneously, so only a few are intercepted.”
These reinforcements come within the framework of an agreement between the United Kingdom and France to try to reduce illegal immigration, which reached 45,000 crossings in 2022, a record number. “I have reached an agreement with France that allows the boats to be stopped at the source before crossing the Channel,” said Conservative British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
At the beginning of March, the UK committed in writing €500 million over four years to France to increase its military presence at sea borders, including €141 million for 2023/2024.
The interior ministers of the two countries welcomed the agreement, but it drew criticism from organizations helping migrants in Calais.
According to a report published by the Utopia 56 association last month, attempts to cross the Channel increased by 22% in June despite the reinforcement of police presence, thanks to the good weather.
“In the face of such growing police presence, migrants are leaving from further afield than ever before. We have received calls from groups all along the coast, from the Belgian border to Berk, an area of about 130 kilometers of coastline. The crossing distance is sometimes three or four times as far. In addition to that, the risks increase dramatically” the report said.
In July, the weather was worse than in June, yet the departures did not slow down.
According to observers, it is clear that the more forces are present at the borders, the more smugglers will use new methods to circumvent the security restrictions.