Moment British Border Force vessels and French Navy ships ‘handover’ traffickers’ boats in ‘taxi service’

THIS is the moment British Border Force vessels and French Navy ships “handover” traffickers’ boats full of migrants like a “taxi service”.

In a series of radio conversations recorded on Sunday, French warships and maritime police can be heard contacting three Border Force ships – Defender, Hurricane and Ranger.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel


A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vesselCredit: PA
Home Secretary Suella Braverman travelled to France to finalise a £63million deal to stop migrants crossing the channel


Home Secretary Suella Braverman travelled to France to finalise a £63million deal to stop migrants crossing the channelCredit: EPA

The recordings, from a public maritime radio channel, reveal how the two nations arrange the handover of boats carrying migrants just 12 miles off Kent.

The radio dialogue suggests that instead of stopping illegals, the French Navy is routinely guiding migrant boats from the French coast to mid-Channel meet-ups with Brits.

British Border Force workers then put the passengers on board boats to bring them into Dover, reports Mail Online.

It comes as the UK and France signed a landmark £63million deal to stop migrants crossing the Channel.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman travelled to France to finalise the deal yesterday morning, where she met the country’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

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Under the new agreement, the UK will pay France an extra £8million a year to stop the small boats setting off from the French coast.

The agreement will see a huge increase in the number of officers patrolling the beaches in northern France to stop the vessels leaving.

And British police officers will be able to observe patrols across the channel.

The three radio conversations between British and French vessels took place between 10am and 11am UK time on Remembrance Sunday.

The recording begins with the captain of France’s warship Pluvier calling the Defender to say: “We have just crossed into your area.”

And the French officer gives a maritime chart reference disclosing that he is on the French-English sea border in the Channel.

“We have good visibility of this (migrant) craft. We are going to…. make sure there is no sea traffic to interfere. We are content to let the migrant vessel run on a little bit further,” replies the Defender officer.

The Pluvier skipper responds: “I understand we have a handover with you.”

Defender agrees with this before requesting the French ship to “remain in current area until we can start embarkation”.

In snippets of a second conversation, believed to refer to a separate migrant boat, the French maritime police radio call Hurricane.

The Brit border force vessel was also on duty intercepting illegal migrants in the Channel that morning.

French Maritime cops can be heard saying: “We are on our route coming with one boat of migrants. Are you ready to receive them or not?”

Border Force Hurricane replies: “We have just been tasked to another event but there is another vessel on its way with an ETA (estimated time of arrival) of about 20 minutes.

“If you could please stay with them until another vessel which is Border Force Ranger arrives there.”

After confirming the message, the maritime police promise their vessel will stay beside the migrant boat until Border Force Ranger gets to the pick-up point between French and British Channel waters.

And in a third recording some minutes later, the French maritime police tell the Ranger their warship is “right now on your starboard side”.

The French maritime police stated: “We contacted the BF Hurricane just before.

“Normally, you come into our position to take charge of the small [migrant] boat we are escorting.”

The BF Ranger responds: “We will be closing in on your position at the moment. We will be on scene in approximately five minutes.”

Although the reply is unclear due to interference online, the Ranger is told there are adult migrants and “five children”.

The Ranger ends the conversation with the words: “We will be with you shortly. Appreciate if you could hold station while we embark [the migrants].”


Craig Mackinlay, Conservative MP for South Thanet in Kent, slammed the messages.

He said: “It just goes from bad to worse. I’m sick to death of Border Force acting as a taxi service.

“The messages make it all sound very chummy. Anyone who has worked at sea knows that’s the way you might behave, but what we should be saying is: ‘You picked them up on your side of the line, you take them back.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the landmark deal with France and plans to deepen ties in the months ahead.

But while adamant overall migration numbers will fall, Mr Sunak could not guarantee this would happen next year.

The PM declared the pact could go further in the coming months as UK officers will be embedded with their counterparts in control rooms in the initial stages.

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His comments come after he met French leader Emmanuel Macron last week at the Cop27 conference in Egypt to tackle the problem head-on, as the number of people crossing hit 40,000.

The Home Office have been contacted for comment.


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