How gangs are exploiting bureaucratic French rules to smuggle migrants into UK
A French military police officer has told a Daily Express investigator how people traffickers are exploiting the inadequacies of the local police and bureaucratic rules to put migrants on boats to Britain.
The beaches of northern France are routinely patrolled by police units, with who patrols where depending on the local authority.
Areas around Boulogne and Calais are the responsibility of municipal officers supported by riot police, the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité. The rest of the coast is tackled by the military police.
According to the officer who spoke to Daily Express, the shift patterns worked by the local officers last only eight hours, a third of those worked by the military police.
The gaps created by these changeovers are compounded by the fact these units might also be called to a crime or disorder in part of the town.
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This combination has led to beaches often being unmanned and plenty of opportunities for traffickers to launch boats.
Military police, the source claimed, do not have anywhere near as many crossings on their stretches of coastline.
They said this was because of the hi-tech equipment they used and extensive training that enabled them to more effectively find groups of migrants guided by smugglers to the beach.
The officer said he knew how to safely wade into water and deflate a vessel to bring migrants back to land.
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He explained: “While we can effectively tackle and stop any boats before they leave, local officers are avoiding doing this as the law means if migrants drown the policeman could be charged for their deaths.
“There have been times when me and my colleagues have watched small boats sail out into the Channel that could easily have been stopped.
“But we were often powerless to act as the dinghies had been launched from beaches that came under the local police’s jurisdiction.
“This has caused me and many of my colleagues in the military police immense frustration. But it is unavoidable. It comes as an instruction from the big boss. We’re not to intervene in areas run by local police.”
The source added: “I understand how this would all be concerning to the British taxpayer, who expects this problem to be tackled especially as they are funding our unit’s presence.”
Once the dinghies are on their way out to sea, French police have not intervened unless those aboard are in distress or believed likely to cooperate. Patrol ships escort them safely to British waters.
This is because a notice – issued in August last year by France’s Departmental Board of the National Police – effectively bans officers from taking action against boats already in the water.
It was issued in light of a complaint filed by campaign group Utopia 56.
This association accused French police of endangering life, claiming officers slashed an overloaded dinghy to prevent it from leaving.
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