EU migrant crisis ‘is colossal’: British borders face threat from terrorists and smugglers

BRITAIN’S borders are at growing risk of exploitation by people traffickers and terrorists following the “colossal” migrant crisis engulfing the EU, MPs warned last night.

UK's border at riskGETTY    Britain’s borders are at growing risk of exploitation by people traffickers and terrorists

The Border Force has a “worryingly low” number of vessels patrolling coastal waters despite a surge into Europe that is “unprecedented in modern times”, according to a Commons report.Gaps in security at smaller ports are increasingly being exploited to sneak illegal migrants into the country, the report said. And the crisis is raising the likelihood that terrorist “barbarism” will be imported into the UK.

MPs called for Royal Navy ships to be drafted in to fill the gaps in border defences that have left the country wide open to criminal gangs and potential terrorists.The latest scathing verdict on Britain’s border security came in a report on the Migrant Crisis from the Commons Home Affairs Committee last night.

It confirmed the warnings about Britain’s porous borders that have been sounded by the Daily Express for years.

“Terrorists do not see national borders as a barrier to their barbarism and people with illegal or lethal intent will continue to try to find ways through any security system,” the report said. “Cooperation and continued vigilance are necessary.”
The Home Affairs Committee estimated that 227,316 migrants had come to Europe by sea in the first six months of this year, arriving in Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Spain after crossing the Mediterranean from Libya and Egypt. Nearly 3,000 had died during attempted sea crossings.

SmugglersGETTY   The Home Office response should reflect changes in methods and routes used by migrant smugglers

More than 1.2million asylum applications were made in EU member nations last year, more than double the 562,680 in 2014.

Cooperation and continued vigilance are necessary

Commons report

“There is a potential threat to UK security, and the ongoing challenge to migration controls which this aspect of illegal migration presents remains of serious concern to us,” the report said.“The Home Office must continue to adapt its response to cross-Channel illegal migration to reflect changes in methods and routes used by migrant smugglers.”

Britain’s Border Force had just three vessels to patrol 7,723 miles of coastline, the report said. The number compared with 600 for Italy’s 4,722 miles of coast and 147 for Spain’s 3,085 miles.

Terrorists don't see national bordersGETTY   ‘Terrorists do not see national borders as a barrier to their barbarism’, the report claimed

“The number of Border Force vessels in operation appears to be worryingly low.“Royal Navy vessels should be made available to Border Force to make up for shortfalls, where necessary,” the report said.

The report also found that criminal gangs were switching people-smuggling activities from Calais and Dunkirk to smaller UK ports including Hull, Immingham, Tilbury, Purfleet, Newhaven and Portsmouth.

Migrants were paying as little as £100 for a Channel crossing to more than £6,000 for a journey in “high-quality concealment”.

ArchbishopGETTY   Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby described the migrant crisis as ‘colossal’

“Some migrants were reported to have paid up to £12,000 for transport from Dunkirk to the UK in rigid-hulled inflatable boats,” the report said.“Security must be tightened at small ports and airports which are being used as entry points from these new departure points on the continental coast as a matter of urgency.”

MPs on the committee also delivered a withering verdict on the EU’s response to the migrant crisis, which the report pointed out had been described by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as “colossal”.

“The EU and its Member States failed to anticipate the scale of migrant flows, and did not have the structures and mechanisms in place to cope.

“As a result, the EU has been too slow to respond in a coordinated way,” the report said.

Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith VazGETTY   Keith Vaz said vessels in the Mediterranean have failed to deter migrants flows

It described a deal with Turkey to begin return of migrants in return for visa-free access to much of mainland Europe for Turkish citizens as “too late” and “highly controversial for a number of reasons.”Home Affairs Committee chairman Keith Vaz, a former Labour minister, said: “Naval deployments in the Mediterranean have saved lives, but they have failed in their twin tasks of deterring migrant flows and disrupting and destroying criminal smuggling networks.

“The EU’s response in combating people traffickers who are exploiting, exacerbating and profiting from this crisis has been poor. These criminal gangs are the only winners.”

Hull portGETTY    People-smuggling activities from Calais and Dunkirk switched to smaller UK ports like Hull

He went on: “Criminal gangs continue to exploit weaknesses in security at small ports in Britain to illegally transport migrants from the continent.“Despite maritime security being critical to an island nation, Border Force is operating worryingly low numbers of vessels to protect our borders.

“Royal Navy vessels must be used in our sea war against the traffickers.”

Border Force vesselGETTY    The report found the number of Border Force vessels in operation appeared to be ‘worryingly low’

Mr Vaz said the “appalling” terrorist attacks in Paris earlier this year had “demonstrated that terrorists are exploiting this crisis by using this human tragedy as a cloak to re-enter Europe.”He added: “The EU external border must improve security, including deploying specialist equipment to fingerprint and check everyone against security databases. This is not happening. Terrorists do not see borders as barriers to their barbarism.”

Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of the pressure group Migration Watch, said: “Clearly the challenges facing the UK Border Force remain significant and are growing.

Migrant crisisGETTY    More money should be devoted to address the issue of illegal immigration, Mr Mehmet said

“It is imperative that more money is devoted to address the issue of illegal immigration which is of major public concern.”A Home Office spokeswoman said: “We continue to work tirelessly to maintain the security of our border, intercepting attempts to enter the UK illegally and targeting the callous gangs that profit from people smuggling.

“We will respond to the committee’s recommendations in due course.”

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Precisely. I read that some of these migrants are given mobile phone numbers to contact the patrol boats to pick them up! It’s nothing but a ferry service to where they want to go. And once landed in UK, they are questioned, told to report to Croydon and promptly let go. How many turn up? Not many! that’s why there are reportedly over a million illegal immigrants in UK, although most of them are over-stayers, rather than arriving by lorry or boat. And what sort of message did it give when the man who walked though the tunnel was immediately… Read more »

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