Is this proof Priti wants a jet-ski patrol to turn away dinghies?
As Border Force is spotted on manoeuvres...
TO the criminal gangs who smuggled a record of almost 2,000 migrants into the UK last week, it may be a shot across the bows.
Border Force officers were filmed yesterday on high-powered jet-skis apparently rehearsing tactics to intercept Channel crossings.
In a display of speed and agility, teams were seen zipping across the water pursuing and encircling boats. The drills come just days after it was reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel had authorised plans for armoured jetskis to turn around migrant boats mid-crossing.
The tactic involves officers on two jet-skis, with one pushing the boat back from the bow and the other nudging the stern at its motor to turn it around – before escorting it back to France.
Yesterday Border Force staff were seen carrying out exercises off Dover, but the Home Office refused to say whether they were rehearsing the turn-back tactics, which have prompted an outcry from campaigners who claim they could endanger lives.
Border Force staff are understood to have been given training on handling migrant boats, with the decision on how to approach an incident down to individual captains at sea. The manoeuvres come after it was revealed that nearly 2,000 migrants arrived in the UK in the last week, setting a new record for the year so far.
A total of 1,959 people crossed the Channel from France in the week to September 10 – the highest total for any seven-day period in 2021.
Yesterday several young children were among the latest group seen arriving in Dungeness, Kent.
Figures for the most recent sevenday period, the week to September 12, show that 1,876 migrants arrived. At least 14,400 have crossed to the UK on board small boats this year so far – just over 6,000 higher than the number who made the crossing in the whole of 2020.
The Home Office said it did not routinely comment on maritime operational activity relating to border security. But a spokesman said: ‘We continue to evaluate and test a range of safe and legal options for stopping small boats.’
Last week Britain and France became embroiled in a war of words over efforts to halt crossings. French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said he would not accept any practices which breach maritime laws.
He also warned he would not be subjected to financial blackmail following suggestions from Miss Patel that she could withhold millions of pounds promised to help step up patrols.