‘Don’t blame RNLI!’ Former immigration chief demands more investment into Border Force

Border force needs more investment says former chief

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Speaking to Express.co.uk, Kevin Saunders, who was the UK’s Chief Immigration Officer in Calais for 16-years, said it was wrong to criticise the lifeboats for assisting migrants to the English shoreline after Brexiteer Nigel Farage branded the charity as a “taxi service” during the migrant crisis.

Mr Saunders stressed Mr Farage and others simply “cannot criticise them [the RNLI] for saving life” as he stressed their duty is to save lives at sea.

But he was adamant that what should be criticised is the fact the RNLI are put in the position where they have to intervene and assist migrants in danger in the Channel.

Mr Saunders slammed how the UK should “shouldn’t be relying on the RNLI to save these people” as he said the issue should be managed by Border Force and not volunteers. 

But he warned the issue is that UK Border Force simply “can’t cope” because of a lack of vessels and resources available to them to deal with the crisis which has seen an astonishing 24,000 migrants cross the Channel in 2021 alone.

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Mr Saunders suggested more investment in Border Force was therefore vital to deal with what Home Secretary Priti Patel has now acknowledged as a “mass migration crisis”.

But in a surprising call the former immigration chief called on the Royal Navy to intervene in the crisis given the lack of resources available to Border Force.

He suggested how the Navy in fact have the correct boats and equipment at their disposal which “could do the same job” as Border Force.

The comments come as Priti Patel launched a furious attack on Brussels on Thursday evening for fuelling the channel migrant crisis.

Kevin Saunders: France could do more to help the migrant crisis

Speaking to reporters in Washington DC Ms Patel blamed the EU’s internal open borders for allowing millions of illegal migrants to move freely around the bloc.

She said: “I would maintain the numbers are so significant that have they got enough resources.

“We are constantly pressing France on this, and we’re asking them to be honest with us about where the gaps are, because they can’t be everywhere and obviously, the numbers are high.”

But she warned that “France can’t do it on their own” when it comes to stopping the crossings adding that France is now “overwhelmed” by migrants attempting a Channel crossing.


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Earlier this year the UK offered £54million to the French to help stem the flow of small boats through increased patrols, but the French have claimed the UK have still not paid this sum.

It comes as the government has been talking to other nations to see if migrants can be processed in abroad to deter them from heading to France.

Responding to a question from reporters after it was rumoured the UK was reported to be in talks with Albania to carry out migrant checks, she said everything is “on the table” to deal with the issue.

Albanian foreign affairs minister Olta Xhaçka claimed that such an agreement was “fake news”.

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