France and Britain on Sunday signed an agreement to share intelligence in their joint fight against human traffickers who illegally smuggle migrants across the English Channel.
French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin said that the deal to set up a French-British intelligence unit would allow for better exchanges of information about smuggling networks.
British Secretary of State for the Home Department Priti Patel said the new unit “will crack down on gangs behind vile people smuggling.”
Photo: Andrew Parsons / No. 10 Downing Street / EPA-EFE
Patel visited Calais in France to sign the deal with Darmanin.
Patel described levels of illegal migration across the waterway as “unsustainable.”
“Despite all of the action taken by law enforcement to date — intercepting the boats, making arrests, returning people to France and putting the criminals responsible behind bars — the numbers continue to increase,” Patel said. “This simply cannot be allowed to go on.”
Calais over the years has unwillingly hosted rudimentary, overcrowded migrant camps.
The new unit would be staffed by French and British officers and would use intelligence to help prevent crossings and dismantle smuggling gangs.
Patel described it as “the start of a new operational approach.”
Darmanin said he pressed Patel for additional British help, including officers and equipment, to root out smugglers “who profit from the human misery of the people who want to cross the Channel and who are not punished enough.”
“It’s very important that our British friends realize that if the migrants come here in Calais, it’s not for the beauty of the city, but it’s to cross the Channel,” he said. “The British government did a lot to protect the French coast, but we need more.”
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