UK offers Nato security fence to help Calais tackle migrants

Security fence set up around Nato summit in Newport, Wales (September 3 2014) Image copyright AP
Image caption The 9ft-high fences were set up around the resort hosting the Nato summit in Newport

The UK is to offer France the security fences used at the Nato summit in Newport to help tackle migrants trying to get into the country illegally from Calais, the immigration minister says.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, James Brokenshire said the 9ft-high steel barricade could "replace and enlarge... inadequate fencing" at the French port.

It was the latest in a line of measures the UK had taken, he said.

An increasing numbers of migrants have flocked to Calais in recent months.

Mr Brokenshire said the current fencing at the port was "too easy for illegal immigrants to scale".

Earlier this week scores of illegal migrants were able to get past security and tried to run up the main ramp of a ferry bound for the UK. But they were foiled when the crew raised the ramp and turned a fire hose on them.

Mr Brokenshire said: "We would like to establish secure parking areas where legitimate hauliers and travellers can wait without being hassled by would-be illegal immigrants."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption An increasing number of migrants have arrived in Calais in recent months

He added the UK was "no soft touch" when it comes to illegal immigration and highlighted the government's efforts to tackle the issue.

"Our economy is growing and we have a proud history of tolerance and acceptance to those who genuinely need our protection," he writes.

"But many people still try to come to this country neither for protection nor to make a legitimate contribution to our economy. It is in everyone's best interests if these illegal migrants can be prevented from attempting to come to Britain in the first place."

'No illusion'

The Mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, has threatened to blockade the port unless the UK helps to control the problem, claiming the town has been "taken hostage" by more than 1,000 migrants who want to cross the channel.

Mr Brokenshire said it was France's responsibility to maintain security of their port "but we want to do what we can to help".

He said: "We have increased staffing levels in the port and extended security patrols. Our security checking for freight includes up-to-the-minute heartbeat scanners and wave sensor technology to detect bodies in lorries, alongside the good old fashioned sniffer dogs.

"But there is more we can do. That is why we offered the Port of Calais £3m three months ago to help improve security further and to provide more booths to keep the travelling public moving. We now need to see the improvements we have committed to fund implemented swiftly."

Mr Brokenshire said immigrants "should be under no illusion" about arriving in the UK illegally.

He said the Immigration Act 2014 prevents them receiving benefits, housing, bank accounts and driving licences and European countries were working to break up criminal gangs involved in people trafficking.

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