Almost £500m spent on preventing migrants from crossing the English Channel in the past seven years

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Almost £500m of taxpayers’ money has been spent on preventing migrants from crossing the English Channel in the past seven years, research reveals, including huge sums handed to the French

  • £473m has been spent on security measures to tackle migrants in the channel
  • The MoD revealed there were 388 crossings from northern France on Thursday
  • Priti Patel expected to announce a package to hand an even larger sum to France

Nearly half a billion pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent trying to prevent migrants crossing the Channel in the past seven years, according to research.

The total includes huge sums handed to the French government in a bid to prevent would-be asylum seekers from leaving their shores.

Figures show £473million has been spent on a range of security measures as well as the up-front cost of Priti Patel’s Rwanda asylum deal.

The Ministry of Defence revealed that there were a further 388 crossings from northern France on Thursday. Pictured: Migrants arrive in a Border Force Volunteer rescue boat, which escorted 90 migrants picked up in the English Channel by Border Force on Thursday, August 4

The Ministry of Defence revealed that there were a further 388 crossings from northern France on Thursday. Pictured: Migrants arrive in a Border Force Volunteer rescue boat, which escorted 90 migrants picked up in the English Channel by Border Force on Thursday, August 4

It came as the Ministry of Defence revealed that there were a further 388 crossings from northern France on Thursday, bringing the total number of arrivals since the start of the year to 17,483.

It does not include a further unconfirmed number of migrants who reached the UK yesterday.

Labour, who compiled the spending figures, said the Government had spent just under £230million on security measures at Calais and other embarkation points in northern France since 2015.

Priti Patel (pictured) is expected to announce a further package later in the summer which is likely to hand an even larger sum to France to boost anti-migrant efforts by officials

Priti Patel (pictured) is expected to announce a further package later in the summer which is likely to hand an even larger sum to France to boost anti-migrant efforts by officials

It included a £54million deal announced by the Home Secretary last year to be spent on bolstering the number of coastal patrols by French authorities.

Miss Patel is expected to announce a further package later in the summer which is likely to hand an even larger sum to France to boost anti-migrant efforts by officials.

The £473million also includes £74million to upgrade the UK Border Force’s cutter fleet, an extra £50million pledged when the Ministry of Defence took command of British operations in the Channel in April, and the £120million given to Rwanda for initial costs.

The sum does not include the £1.5billion a year it costs to run the asylum system.

Labour’s immigration spokesman Stephen Kinnock said: ‘Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are too busy competing to continue Priti Patel’s failing policies and ramp up the rhetoric against refugees instead of coming up with a plan to tackle the criminal gangs that are putting lives at risk.

‘The Government is spending hundreds of millions without ever coming up with a comprehensive plan and, as a result, the number of people making the life-threatening crossings has soared.’

Labour say they would spend the money ‘strengthening the National Crime Agency, as part of a comprehensive plan to prevent dangerous Channel crossings’.

Labour's immigration spokesman Stephen Kinnock (pictured) criticised the Home Secretary's 'failing policies'

Labour’s immigration spokesman Stephen Kinnock (pictured) criticised the Home Secretary’s ‘failing policies’

Over the period covered by the spending, Channel migrants and people trafficking gangs have largely switched from clandestine smuggling in the backs of lorries to using dinghies and small boats.

There were just 299 reported crossings by small boat in 2018. This rose to 8,466 in 2020 and then soared to 28,526 last year.

Home Office projections which emerged in January suggested this year’s total would hit 65,000, although it is unclear whether the Rwanda policy is deterring migrants.

In June, Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft told MPs crossings were ‘not rising as much as this year’s projection’.

Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss last night vowed to ‘make sure France is held to account’ for its role in stopping migrants crossing the Channel illegally.

Speaking at a hustings event in Eastbourne, the Foreign Secretary said: ‘Now, I spoke to my French counterpart last week to make it very clear we expect French border guards to be working all hours in Dover, to make sure that our border is protected.’

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