Ex-Border Force chief: Process to send migrants back to France 'hugely bureaucratic'

27 May 2020, 10:22 | Updated: 27 May 2020, 10:25

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A former chief border officer has said migrants want to be picked up by UK authorities because they know it means they will be brought back to British shores.

Nick Ferrari spoke about the "surge" in migrants coming to UK shores from France after Priti Patel launched a major push for controversial new powers designed to tackle the Channel migrant crisis, the Daily Mail reported.

It was reported the Home Secretary is drawing up plans for specific new legislation allowing UK patrol boats to turn back the vessels.

Read more: LBC Uncovers Major People Smuggling Ring Bringing Migrants Across Channel To UK

Nick said that in 2019 the total number of known migrants who made it across the Channel stood at 1,890, and so far this year there is already a staggering 1,600.

"Of those 1,600 this year, six per cent have been returned to France," Nick said.

Former Director-General of the UK Border Force Tony Smith told LBC he hoped the Home Secretary would gain additional powers to remove migrants back to France.

Mr Smith said law enforcement bodies were "all over" the issue.

Read more: "How I Infiltrated One Of The Biggest People Smuggling Rings In Northern France"

He said the issue of "interdiction on the high seas is very difficult, it brings in the law of the sea," he also revealed it required agreement from both the UK and France.

The former chief immigration officer said he did not think it was "beyond us" adding he had worked with the French previously.

"I don't think the French want smugglers and illegal migrants over northern-France any more than we do," he said.

- Watch: The moment LBC reporter confronts the people smuggler - and he runs for it!

Nick Ferrari was speaking to a former Border Force chief
Nick Ferrari was speaking to a former Border Force chief. Picture: PA/LBC

Nick asked if French authorities wanted to see migrants make it to UK shores rather than returning to France.

"The first priority is health and safety," Mr Smith said, "you don't want anybody to drown."

He added that now migrants are "resisting boarding a French vessel because they don't want to be picked up by the French."

He said the reason was simple, "they'll get taken back to France."

"They want to be picked up by us."

Echoing the words of the Home Secretary the former border force officer said the UK does not have the legal authority to return interdicted migrants to France.

He said, "we have to bring them in here and because of the legal construction they can then lodge an asylum claim."

He branded the process "hugely bureaucratic."

He said people smugglers would "continue to do this" unless a new agreement could be reached with France."

On Brexit the immigration said it was a relevant subject, he said once the UK leaves the EU it would need something to replace European Union rules on migration.

"You're not supposed to pick which country you fancy claiming asylum in, you're supposed to claim asylum in a safe third country, which France clearly is."