French police ordered not to halt boats bound for UK amid fears of legal action for endangering life – Daily Mail

By Tom Kelly Investigations Editor For The Daily Mail
|

1.1k
View
comments

French police have been ordered not to stop migrant boats in the water departing for Britain because of fears of facing legal action.
The diktat has left ‘overwhelmed’ officers powerless to intervene as people smuggling gangs ruthlessly exploit the system to send thousands more migrants on perilous cross Channel crossings.
The policy was introduced after a campaign group filed a complaint accusing police of endangering human life after officers punctured an overloaded small boat just a few yards from the shore to prevent it leaving.
A subsequent notice from France‘s Departmental Board of the National Police issued on August 26 banned officers from targeting boats already in the water. Only those on the beach or on the road could be intercepted.
People smugglers swiftly responded, setting up almost untouchable ‘taxi boat’ services.
Instead of taking dinghies to the beach by road and inflating them on the sand, as before, gangs now pilot boats along the coast and pick up groups of migrants waiting on the shore at pre-arranged spots. 
French police have been ordered not to stop migrant boats in the water departing for Britain because of fears of facing legal action. Pictured: A coach full of migrants smiled and waved as they left the Manston camp in Kent
The diktat has left ‘overwhelmed’ officers powerless to intervene as people smuggling gangs ruthlessly exploit the system to send thousands more migrants on perilous cross Channel crossings. Pictured: Suella Braverman
Unable to intervene, police can only stand and watch. One despairing officer warned: ‘All this is going to end in another tragedy.’
The Mail+ readers overwhelmingly agree with Suella Braverman that the Channel migrant crisis is ‘out of control’.
In a poll of 2,494 people, 98 per cent said they agreed with the remarks of the Home Secretary. Just 2 per cent disagreed. On Monday Mrs Braverman told MPs that ministers needed to be straight with the public because the asylum system was broken.
Using remarkably stark language, Mrs Braverman also likened the Channel crossings to ‘an invasion’ of the southern coast. 
The police ban on stopping boats in the water means migrants risk hypothermia because they have to wade or swim a few yards through freezing sea to board the waiting dinghies, witnesses have warned.
But Nikolai Posner, of migrant campaign group Utopia 56, whose complaint led to the ban, told the Mail it was a victory.
He said: ‘There was a nasty incident in June when the police arrived on the scene of a launching on the coast near Calais and waded into the water as a small boat loaded with migrants was heading out towards England.
‘They slashed the rubber boat, sinking it and the migrants were left in the sea and had to wade back to the beach. There could have been loss of life.’
He said the group made a formal representation to the Défenseur des Droits, the French authority that rules on human rights issues.
After hearing their case, a formal warning was sent to the French National Police and gendarmes banning them from interfering with migrants in the water or in boats at sea, Mr Posner said.
‘It was a victory for Utopia 56. Anything which contributes towards reducing police violence against migrants is a victory for us’, he said.
‘Effectively, the police and the gendarmes are powerless to prevent migrants heading for the UK once they have taken to the water.’ 
He added that there was very little preventing the migrants from reaching the UK apart from the dangers of rough seas, winds, tides and the risk of being run down by 400 giant freighters using the Channel every day.
The policy was introduced after a campaign group filed a complaint accusing police of endangering human life after officers punctured an overloaded small boat just a few yards from the shore to prevent it leaving
Migrants smile and wave as they are taken out of Manston to hotels and hostels around Britain
Small boats routinely capsize or sink in bad weather during the dangerous crossings, with 367 migrants rescued on a single day last month, French officials said.
Residents of Blériot Plage, on the outskirts of Calais, said the traffickers’ taxi boats have been used often during recent good weather.
On one occasion, a group of up to 60 migrants, including several women, gathered in front of a bus stop at the end of a breakwater by the beach and embarked on the boat when it arrived, witnesses told local media.
The boat then headed straight out into the Channel while trafficking gang members who had accompanied the migrants to the collection point left by bus.
Two other men who arrived with the boat and disembarked while the migrants boarded remained on the beach after the boat left before also departing by bus.

Migrants at the controversial Manston camp (pictured) in Kent have been sleeping on the floor of marquees for a month, are not allowed to use toilets with the doors closed and have not had a GP stationed on site until this week, it was claimed
A coach arrives at the Manston immigration short-term holding facility
The taxi boats are believed to be launched from isolated river estuaries north and south of the Dunkirk to Calais coastline, sometimes as far as 30 miles away, and driven to the beaches at high speed.
Sometimes they are disguised as fishing tenders with nets and lines to prevent interception en route. Then the gear is ditched and replaced with waiting migrants.
The tactics come after the UK official in charge of tackling illegal crossings admitted the asylum system was overwhelmed by the numbers trying to reach the UK.
This year has seen a record 38,000 people make it to Britain after crossing the world’s busiest shipping lane in small boats. 
The Home Office’s clandestine Channel threat commander Dan O’Mahoney told MPs last week that there had been an ‘exponential’ rise in arrivals from Albania, facilitated by criminal gangs, the equivalent to ‘between 1 and 2 per cent’ of its adult male population.
A spokesman for the Prefecture Maritime in Cherbourg confirmed that taxi boats are operating along the French Channel coast and that since August 9,000 migrants a month have attempted to cross from France to the UK.
Orlane Saliou said: ‘We have noted launchings of boats in one sector followed by the craft moving along the coast to collect passengers.
‘We apply land and sea coordination permanently and we do all we can to avoid persons taking ill-considered risks.’
She said craft used by smugglers are still considered of ‘precarious quality’. She added: ‘Dangers involved if a craft sinks are increased with colder water temperatures as well as increased numbers of attempted crossings.’
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

source

Leave a Comment