Bungled French efforts to stop migrants crossing the channel into the UK like 'trying to empty the sea with a spoon'

BUNGLED French efforts to stop migrants crossing the channel into the UK is like “trying to empty the sea with a spoon”, Calais’s MP has moaned.

Pierre Henri Dumont complained French police “can’t be in different places at the same time” as he admitted that they didn’t take boats back to shore if they’ve crossed over into British waters.

He said that "maybe we should do more" but insisted the French were keeping on eye on 400km of coastline 24-hours a day.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4 today he said: "You only need five minutes for a smuggler to take a boat, bring all the migrants on the boat, and go to the seas.

"What we are doing is trying to empty the sea with a spoon".

He said it would be "very difficult to stop them" coming to the UK because it's "their dream".

Groups were trying daily to get across despite increased resources, he said.

A whopping 202 asylum seekers crossed the Channel in just one day last week – a new record.

The number who have crossed the Channel this year alone is nearly double the 1,892 for the whole of 2019.

Many have been snapped paddling in canoes trying to get across to the UK.

Mr Dumont admitted that boats which were in English waters were sent to Dover, and not taken back to France.

"We are applying the law of sea," he claimed.

French coppers can't monitor the coast at all times because they also have to be alert to other crime in the area, such as drug dealers.

Priti Patel said last month she had had "difficult conversations" with the French recently.

She told the Home Affairs Committee: “French authorities are not intercepting boats at sea, even boats that have just left, that are 250 yards or so away.

“We want to make this unviable and in my view the only way to do this is by intercepting and returning the boats to France.”

The French insist they are following international maritime laws, which say saving lives is paramount.

Migrants often resist rescue or threaten to sink their craft when approached by French law enforcement vessels.

But Ms Patel believes that France can stop and return the boats to their shores under maritime law.

Around 1,000 migrants were stopped by the French in April and May but Ms Patel added: “I feel there could be stronger enforcement measures on the French side – and they have heard that from me.”

Number of migrant crossings

2020: 3,000+ boat migrants

2019: 1,890 boat migrants

2018: 297 boat migrants

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