Migrant boats heading to UK could be stopped with nets

A group of people thought to be migrants arrive in an inflatable boat at Kingsdown beach, near Dover, Kent, after crossing the English Channel. Source: PA

Plans are underway for Britain to use nets as a method of disabling dinghies carrying migrants across the Channel, it has been suggested.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the Home Office’s clandestine channel threat commander Dan O’Mahoney said the tactic would be used as part of a “safe return” strategy in which British vessels would then transfer migrants back to France.

However the tactic has so far been delayed due to France not currently accepting such migrants back into the country.

The former Royal Marine told the paper the strategy involved “safely disabling the engine and then taking the migrants on board our vessel”.

He said: “We definitely are very, very close to being able to operationalise a safe return tactic where we make an intervention safely on a migrant vessel, take migrants on board our vessel and then take them back to France.”

He added it was one of a number of methods “which we may deploy over the next few months. But given that we’re not using them yet I’m not at liberty to go into detail about them … We are working with maritime security departments across law enforcement and military, everywhere across government (to) come up with new tactics to tackle this problem.”

Mr O’Mahoney used the interview to unveil a four-stage plan to tackle the problem of illegal migration across the Channel.

At least 1,880 migrants completed the crossing in September, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

The four stages of Mr O’Mahoney’s plan are: using social media to attempt to stop the flow of migrants from Africa and the Middle East into northern France, reducing the number of asylum seekers leaving the region for the UK, physically preventing entry to the UK and reforming Britain’s asylum system.


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