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Migrant crisis posing a 'major threat' to UK border, former Border Force chief tells Home Affairs Select Committee

A former Border Force chief warns the migrant crisis is posing a "major threat" to the UK border.

Tony Smith CBE told the home affairs select committee today that more needs to be done to deter migrants from risking their lives trying to reach Kent.

He said: "I think this is becoming a major threat, I'm afraid, to the UK border.

"I do think we need to have a very serious look at this. Are we capable of interdiction on the high seas? How would that work safely? And are we able, regardless of who picks up the individuals, once we've established they are safe and well are we able to return them to their point of disembarkation?

"Otherwise you will continue to fuel the supply chain. This is all driven by money and smugglers - they will be showing people pictures now - 'this is all you have to do, pay us the money, we'll put you in a dinghy and push you off'.

"You need to send a very, very clear message that that's not going to work."

Mr Smith was among a panel of witnesses who gave evidence at today's meeting, which included Sarah West, chief operations officer at the Port of Dover.

A Border Force cutter. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher
A Border Force cutter. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher

It comes as hundreds of migrants have been picked up in the Channel while trying to reach the UK from France in recent days.

Yesterday, 157 people were picked up by English and French authorities in the space of just one day.

The crisis has been met with widespread public attention. Earlier this month, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage visited the Port of Dover to witness a boatload of migrants being brought to shore by Border Force.

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