Toddlers dangled overboard and pregnant women forced on boats at gunpoint are some of the horrifying examples emerging of how people traffickers try to prevent boats being stopped when illegally crossing the English Channel.
I raised the examples in the House of Commons this week (June 8) after holding talks with Home Secretary Priti Patel in Dover last Friday, when the Home Secretary made a special visit to Border Force to look into this issue. It reaffirmed the need to put a stop to the crossings by returning migrants and cracking down on the criminal gangs behind them.
I said to the Commons: “New-born babies put at risk of hypothermia. Toddlers stripped of their life jackets and dangled over the side to prevent interceptions. Pregnant women forced to board at gun point.
“Does the Home Secretary agree with me that it’s humanitarian as well as the right thing to do to tackle and put a stop to these ruthless criminal gangs, and return boats to France and to give her the legal powers she needs to put a stop to the crossings once and for all?”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “My Honourable Friend is absolutely right. And she will know from our discussions we’ve had even as recently as Friday the extent to which the level of criminals and the exposure and the abuse that’s undertaken by the people traffickers who are forcing mothers and children onto unseaworthy vessels.
“My Honourable Friend the Immigration Minister earlier on outlined the approach that this Government is taking to tackle the abuses, go after the criminals and the facilitators of this crime and we will not stop pursuing until we absolutely break the pathway these criminal gangs are using.”