Government Ministers have confirmed that abandoned migrant boats will be donated to charities, accepting my proposal on the idea.
I have been calling for a crackdown on illegal people-smuggling across the English Channel and approached Ministers about the idea in July. It followed reports some of the boats – many of which are brand new – were being stored locally and then thrown away. I was keen to see if the vessels could be used locally by groups such as Walmer RNLI and the Sea Scouts.
In a letter to me this week, Immigration Compliance Minister Chris Philp said the Home Office had “taken steps to implement a system which will allow for the Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBS) to be donated to interested charity and voluntary sector groups, subject to completion of the necessary legal requirements.”
He added: “A number of charities have registered their interest in this scheme, and some representatives have already visited the site or are booked to visit. Upon visiting, they can view the potentially available boats and inform our Border Force teams which RHIBS they have an interest in obtaining.”
Residents came to me with this sensible idea to put dinghies to good use after the Home Office have finished examining them – so I welcome Ministers listening and taking it forward.
Yet I have also been clear that the real focus should be on making sure the dangerous crossings themselves end once and for all.