Cameron ready to strengthen Calais border points

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during Prime Minister's Questions
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SNIFFER dogs could be introduced to British border controls in Calais as part of efforts to make it harder for illegal migrants to cross to the UK, the Prime Minister has revealed.

David Cameron admitted the Government was reviewing border security in the wake of “totally unacceptable scenes” in France this week.

But he refused to point the blame for the chaos at Calais at the French, insisting the problem would only be solved in “partnership” with other European countries.

The deputy mayor of Calais, Philippe Mignonet, had reiterated calls from French politicians for the border to be moved from northern France to Britain.

But Mr Cameron said the “juxtaposed border controls” which allow British border officials to conduct checks in France “are a good thing for our country”.

Mr Cameron told MPs that he had held talks with Home Secretary Theresa May about increasing border staff numbers and stationing sniffer dog teams at British border points in Calais.

The Prime Minister said more work was being done on installing additional fencing around the port and Eurotunnel entrance.

“All these things can make a difference and we should work with the French very closely. There is no point either side trying to point the finger of blame at each other.

“This is a strong partnership we have in place and we should keep it that way.”

The Prime Minister had been challenged by acting Labour leader Harriet Harman to put pressure the French to start taking “effective action” on processing migrants who pass through the country.

Mrs Harman said British travellers had faced “harassment and intimidation” from migrants trying to get into the UK.

A strike by ferry workers led to tailbacks on the approach to the Eurotunnel on Tuesday. Migrants tried to take advantage of the stationary traffic to board lorries waiting to cross the Channel.

Mrs May told MPs that French and British officials had stopped “significant numbers” of migrants from smuggling themselves past border controls.

The Home Secretary said: “More broadly the ongoing situation in Calais serves as an important reminder of why EU member states need to work together to tackle the causes of illegal immigration in source and transit countries.

“We are already co-operating closely with the French to tackle the organised criminal gangs that facilitate the movement of migrants into and across Europe.

“UK and French law enforcement organisations have already had considerable success in dismantling criminal networks behind the people trafficking and smuggling on both sides of the Channel, resulting in the prosecution of 223 individuals.”

Former Home Secretary Ken Clarke said it was “farcical” to blame the mayor of Calais and the French for the chaotic scenes and said more should be done to identify, locate and finance civilised camps where people could be held in decent conditions while being processed and “not left drifting destitute” to all kinds of places over Europe.