Thursday, 23 Sep 2021

Border Force footage shows training of turning back boats with jet skis ‘Patel is serious’

English Channel: Border Force staff take part in exercises

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Footage captured by charity Channel Rescue and others allegedly shows Border Force practising “pushback” tactics using jet skis after Home Secretary Priti Patel reaffirmed her commitments to tackle migrants crossing the Channel into the UK. Boats were set up with volunteers on board with Border Force staff in Dover using jet skis to move the boats away from land and hypothetically back to France where they came from. GB News Home and Security Editor Mark White remarked the footage shows “Priti Patel is serious” about addressing the migrant crossings following record numbers of crossings this year.

The Home Secretary laid down several plans to address the increase in migrant boats entering the UK from France as the minister comes under intense pressure to crack down on illegal immigration.

Ms Patel announced she would withhold £54million of funding from French authorities if they did not fulfill their side of the migrant agreement with the UK.

The UK Government gives money to France to prevent boats from leaving their northern beaches towards the UK but footage has shown many boats simply escort them to British waters.

French internal minister Gerald Darmanin called the decision “blackmail” and said France would not be bullied by such a measure.

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Ms Patel has also backed pushback tactics like what is used in Australia to forcibly turn back boats towards France.

Footage emerged on Monday which appeared to show Border Force practising their methods.

One of the people who filmed the training spoke to The Independent about what they saw.

He told the publication: “They were putting Border Force staff into the dinghies and sitting on the tubing, replicating how people crossing would be sat.”

Border force officer describes conditions migrants face in Channel

“We saw the jet skis either side and at the rear of the boat and then collide with the vessel to actually spin it around. It looked dangerous.”

If implemented, the tactic would only be used on sturdier and larger boats for fear smaller boats could capsise.

But critics warn the pushback tactics would force desperate migrants to choose smaller and more dangerous boats because they know they will not be targetted.

The number of asylum seekers who have crossed to the UK via small boats in 2021 so far is already just over 6,000.

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Ministers are also set on spending £200million on new vessels including £18million on drones.

GB News Home and Security Editor Mark White told GB News: “[They will use it] on boats which are a bit more sturdy, the rigid, inflatable types

“They can’t use it on the majority of boats which are coming across, very flimsy ones that are packed and look like they are about to disappear under the water at any given time.”

Mr White then remarked a “brave” Border Force officer would have to make the decision whether to turn back the boats which could lead to deaths.

It has been reported that Border Force are calling for a direct line to the Home Secretary who could make the decision on whether to intercept boats and to give the responsibility authority to her.

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