The UK’s interior minister and her French counterpart on Thursday discussed the “possibility of British financial support” to France to curb the rising number of migrants attempting the perilous Channel crossing, France’s interior ministry said.
The talks in Paris between France’s Christophe Castaner and Britain’s Priti Patel came after dozens of migrants including children were detained crossing the Channel in four separate incidents last week.
The number of attempted crossings had “grown in magnitude” since October and their number was still “significant” during the summer, the French interior ministry said in a statement following the meeting.
“France has, as does the UK, an interest in curbing these Channel crossings,” it said, adding that since a national action plan was put in place ten people smuggling networks had been dismantled in recent months.
Britain currently has three Border Force cutters in the Channel.
Financial support from London would serve to “reinforce patrols and improve their effectiveness”, Castaner was quoted as saying.
Any possible financial contribution would be added to the seven million euros ($7.7 million) already committed by the British in January for monitoring equipment.
Since January, the country has returned to Europe more than 65 people who arrived illegally in small boats, the interior ministry said.
The recent spike in crossings was encouraged by “milder weather conditions”, according to French maritime officials.
In 2018, 586 migrants attempted to cross the Channel, according to French maritime authority figures. Since January 1, 2019, the number stands at around 1,500, more than double the number for the whole of 2018.