British police officers are to be deployed in Calais to help tackle the ongoing migrant crisis, the government has said.
Home secretary Theresa May joined her French counterpart, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, in Calais to announce a “command and control centre”, which will be jointly led by one British officer and one French officer, otherwise known as “gold commanders”.
The new command centre will combine the skills and experience of the British police, French police and border force, and will be tasked with finding and disrupting organised criminals who attempt to smuggle migrants illegally into Northern France and across the Channel Tunnel.
Speaking at a press conference, May said:
I welcome the French government's efforts to manage the migrant problem in Calais. Our two countries will always provide protection for those who genuinely need it.
The British senior officer will report to the home secretary, while the French senior officer will report to the French interior minister, detailing the extent of immigration-related criminality seen, detected and disrupted on both sides of the Channel.
The UK government has already spent £7m on building security fences, but local police had argued these measures were only a “short-term solution”.
Foreign secretary Philip Hammond also confirmed the UK will commit 100 more guards to the French side of the Eurotunnel terminal.
Government estimates suggest 3,000 migrants are camping in Calais. Since the start of the year, Eurotunnel has blocked an estimated 37,000 people from crossing, but said in July that stopping everyone had become a “phenomenon” beyond its means.
However, the UK’s “crisis” pales in comparison to that of other nations, with Germany expecting to receive 800,000 asylum seekers this year, more than the entire EU total for 2014.
May however added: "The long-term answer to this, of course, is to reduce the number of migrants trying to make the journey across the Mediterranean."