RNLI ‘treated as taxi service’ as migrant crisis worsens, ex-crew member claims
Sunak says ‘no single, simple solution’ to small boats
Lifeboat crews are being used as a “taxi service” by the Government and are dealing with a massive increase in callouts during the small boats crisis, a former RNLI crewman says. The surge in crossings has led to crews on the Kent coast being called out up to four times a day, according to David Wimble. He is no longer an RNLI crew member but is still in touch with volunteers in that county.
Statistics from the RNLI shows that back in 2013 the Dungeness Lifeboat Station had nine emergency calls.
But by 2021 they attended almost 100 emergencies as the number of people making the hazardous small boats journey dramatically increased.
Mr Wimble served with the RNLI at Littlestone, near Folkestone in Kent, until 2011 and is now a councillor and local newspaper owner.
He told i newspaper: “It’s very hard for businesses to employ crewmen. Some of the local businesses, obviously all the crew are volunteers, they don’t mind giving up their time for them to do lifeboat duties.
“But sometimes last year they were out four times in a days and they weren’t coming into work. It’s getting harder for the crews to justify giving up their time to act as a taxi service really for the Government.
“Dungeness sometimes would only have four or five jobs in a year. But some weeks last year it was out every single day.”
His words come after the Archbishop of Canterbury slammed the Illegal Migration Bill in a dramatic intervention in the House of Lords yesterday.
Justin Welby said there were “too many problems for one speech” with the draft legislation, which would see people who arrive in the UK in small boats detained and promptly removed either to their home country or a third country such as Rwanda.
In his speech he told peers: “We need a Bill to reform migration. We need a Bill to stop the boats. We need a Bill to destroy the evil tribe of traffickers. The tragedy is that without much change this is not that Bill.”
RNLI lifeboats are tasked by HM Coastguard to rescue anyone who is at risk of sea, joining Border Force cutters patrolling the Channel for migrant small boats.
Home Office data reveals that more than 400 migrants in nine boats landed in Kent over the bank holiday weekend. This brings the total making the crossing this year up to 6,691.
It comes after a record 45,728 people crossed in 2022, an increase of more than 60 percent on the previous year.
Mr Wimble says that the increased wear-and-tear on lifeboats due to the increased volume of call-outs meant they would need to be repaired more often, which adds to the RNLI’s costs.
And he questioned whether the Government should provide funding to assist the charity, which relies on donations.
He says the last lifeboat at Dungeness was called out about 10 times a year before being replaced “whereas now sometimes they are doing 10 jobs in a week”.
Sophie and Prince Edward praised as fans spot touching Coronation gesture[WATCH]
‘Boycott CNN’ trends after Donald Trump Town Hall[REPORT]
Bridgen joins Reclaim claiming main parties have ‘abandoned the public'[ANALYSIS]
An RNLI spokesperson said: “The RNLI is independent of the government and funded by the generosity of the public. We will always help those in distress at sea, no matter who they are or where they come from.
“Our lifeboat crews around the UK and Ireland have been committed to carrying out this role with pride for nearly 200 years and that will not change.
“We are incredibly proud of our lifeboat crews who continue to respond, when tasked by HM Coastguard, to go to the aid of those in distress in the English Channel.We understand the demand this places on our volunteers, staff, their families and employers and we thank them for their understanding, support and continued effort to save lives.
“We know that the issue of small boats crossing the Channel is polarising but everyone at the RNLI remains focused on our core purpose of saving lives at sea.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Saving lives at sea is always our priority and we work closely with the French, Coastguard and the RNLI to do that.
“These crossings are extremely dangerous and people have died when making them.”
Source: Read Full Article