The Daily Telegraph

UK to fund asylum units away from French coast

- By Charles Hymas Home Affairs editor

BRITAIN is to help fund a network of asylum reception centres in France as part of the £54million aid package offered by the Government to counter the record surge in Channel migrants.

The Home Office is negotiatin­g to help pay for the centres to accommodat­e people intercepte­d before crossing the Channel in order to prevent them making further attempts to reach the UK in small boats.

The centres will enable the French to transport migrants away from the north coast to apply for asylum in France or a “safe” third European country through which they have previously passed.

Migrants are known to make multiple efforts to cross as the smuggling gangs tell them it will take three or four attempts to reach the UK. MPS complain that the French tend to release migrants caught on beaches unless officers can arrest the smugglers in situ.

The multi-million-pound scheme is similar to the EU’S deal with Turkey in which it paid Ankara £5billion to take back migrants returned from Greece, a country that has adopted the

‘The investment will include accommodat­ion, medical advice and guidance on asylum applicatio­ns’

“push back” tactics that Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, wants to introduce in the Channel.

The plan is being held up by a war of words over the failure of the French to prevent more migrants leaving the beaches and France’s refusal to take back those intercepte­d or “pushed back” by British Border Force vessels.

Ms Patel has told her French counterpar­t, Gérald Darmanin, Britain will pull the plug on the £54million deal unless the French increase the number of migrants stopped before they reach UK waters. “The investment in those centres across France would be dedicated support to migrants and possibly voluntary returns to countries of origin where appropriat­e,” said a Home Office source.

“It will include accommodat­ion, medical advice and guidance on asylum applicatio­ns so that they have an alternativ­e to crossing [the Channel]. The further away from northern France, the more chance there is of changing their behaviour and decisions.”

It replicates a similar scheme already tested last year. Dan O’mahoney, Clandestin­e Channel Threat Commander, told MPS: “We have a good track record when people are moved into reception

Continued from Page 1 centres; they are much more likely to claim asylum in the French system.

“It would be true to say that there is also a cohort of people who are moved away not as far as we would like from the place in which they are intercepte­d, and, unfortunat­ely, they then get recycled back into the population in Calais.”

Tim Loughton, a former minister and member of the Commons home affairs select committee, said the initiative would hinge on the French changing their tactics from releasing migrants intercepte­d on the beaches unless they have also caught smugglers.

He urged the Government to tear up the deal unless France improves its stop rate. “The more money we put their way, the worse [the] job they do and more problems come up. We should not pay the £54 million until we see some results otherwise we are throwing good money after bad,” he said.

Tony Smith, former director general of Border Force, said it was hypocritic­al of the EU and France to agree a multibilli­on euro deal with Turkey to accept migrants “pushed back” or returned on its eastern border but then not agree a similar arrangemen­t in the north with the UK.

He said the French also needed to deport failed asylum seekers. “All they do in the EU is give them a notice to quit the Schengen Area but they don’t.

“They move from one Schengen country to another and hang around. They are not very good at enforcing removals,” he added.

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