Migrant crisis: "Only solution is UK and France join forces to target trafficking gangs"

28 October 2020, 08:52

By Fiona Jones

Former chief of the Border Systems Programme Ian Neill tells LBC that the only solution to the migrant crisis is for UK and France to target the "evil" but "bright" trafficking gangs as one operation.

Boris Johnson has promised a crackdown on "ruthless criminal gangs" organising migrant crossings following the tragic deaths of two young children off the coast of France.

The two youngsters, aged just five and eight, were among four who died following the sinking of a boat on Tuesday.

"I think everyone has identified that criminality is at the heart of the problem," Mr Neill told LBC, "but a lot of evil people are making money out of peoples' misery."

"The way you do actually tackle this is by collaboration and cooperation. Both Border Force and the National Crime Agency are not going to discuss their tactics publicly but they have done a lot of work.

"But you can't do it from two ends of the scale, you have to do it as joint operations."

He told LBC he does not believe the French and UK border controls are working as collaboratively with each other as they should in order to "deliberately target the gangs."

"At the heart of it really is ourselves, the Dutch, the French, the Belgians, need to be...an active collaboration which I'm not sure we're seeing at the moment," Mr Neill said.

He pointed out that there "are so many other issues" occupying the respective governments' minds at the moment that the migrant crisis is not being prioritised - instead each country is focusing on their own back yard.

The border expert explained their modus operandi: "We know that the trafficking gangs are very bright, they employ people for huge sums of money that they make on others' misery, they change their modes of operation really quickly. You have to be able to have something that reacts quickly to that."

Read more: Migrant dies trying to cross the Channel from France to the UK