Priti Patel plans to grant officers immunity if Channel migrants drown during ...

Priti Patel plans to grant officers immunity if Channel migrants drown during ...
Priti Patel plans to grant officers immunity if Channel migrants drown during ...

Priti Patel is planning to grant Border Force officers immunity from prosecution if migrants die during her operation to 'turn back' small boats crossing the Channel, it has been reported. 

The Home Secretary has previously approved the plan which would see migrants boats intercepted and turned back to France by officers on jet skis.

Currently, sailors are obliged to rescue 'a person in distress at sea' under international maritime laws and failure to do so could result in up to two years in prison.

But the government is trying to pass the Nationality and and Borders Bill through Parliament, which would give Border Force officials immunity from prosecution during the 'turnback' operations.

The plans have been criticised by opposition MPs, and charities, while France has branded the tactics 'illegal'.

Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said they were 'unconscionable' and 'unnecessary', The Times reports. 

Border Force currently has existing powers to intercept migrant boats attempting to cross the Channel once they reach UK waters.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel on Monday

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel on Monday

Home Secretary Priti Patel is planning to grant Border Force officers immunity from prosecution if migrants die during her operation to 'turn back' small boats crossing the Channel

Home Secretary Priti Patel is planning to grant Border Force officers immunity from prosecution if migrants die during her operation to 'turn back' small boats crossing the Channel

A Home Office spokesperson today told MailOnline: 'As part of our ongoing response to these dangerous crossings, we continue to evaluate and test a range of safe and legal options for stopping small boats.

'All operational procedures used at sea comply and are delivered in accordance with domestic and international law.

'We will fix the broken asylum system through our New Plan for Immigration, break the business model of people smugglers who put lives at risk and welcome people through safe and legal route.'

Miss Patel had been under pressure to clamp-down on illegal Channel crossings from France after the number of migrants detained by Border Force hit record highs this year. 

Data compiled by PA Media reveals that more than 17,000 people have crossed the Channel in 2021 so far

Data compiled by PA Media reveals that more than 17,000 people have crossed the Channel in 2021 so far 

Border Force officers detained 1,568 migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats in just four days last week as the crisis continues.

Albanian government officials DENY claims that migrants arriving by boat to UK will be detained in new offshore asylum processing centre in Balkans 

The Albanian government has denied that it is in talks with Britain to detain illegal migrants crossing the Channel in small boats while UK authorities handle their asylum requests.

The Albanian Prime Minister's Official Spokesman branded reports in the Sun that London and Tirana are in talks to establish a new processing centre in the Balkan nation 'absolutely untrue'.

The newspaper had quoted an unnamed insider in the talks saying that Home Secretary Priti Patel 'has made it clear she wants this to happen' and 'we are down to the fine details'.

But spokesman Endri Fuga rubbished suggestions that Albania would host migrants on behalf of any third country and urged 'richer and bigger countries' to take in their share of migrants. 

Albania's denial is likely to raise questions about who briefed the Sun on the supposed plans. Miss Patel had been under pressure to clamp-down on illegal Channel crossings from France after the number of migrants detained by Border Force hit record highs this year.  

A Government spokesman told MailOnline: 'We are determined to tackle the unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings. 

'The New Plan for Immigration is the only long term solution to fix the broken system, and includes changes to the law to tackle criminal gangs and prevent further loss of life. This is a shared, international challenge and we continue to work with other countries to meet it.' 

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People smugglers took advantage of calm seas before the weather closes in to make dozens of crossings. And on Monday, around 20 to 30 migrants were brought into Dover although official figures have yet to be confirmed.

On Thursday 89 were intercepted before 624 were detained on Friday. But over the weekend 491 migrants were intercepted on Saturday and a further 364 on Sunday.

It takes the total so far in October to 1,568 after a spell of two weeks where weather conditions were too rough for inflatables to attempt the 21 mile treacherous crossing. In September there were a record 4,646 detained.

Official figures take the number detained so far this year to 18,641.   

Channel Rescue, a charity which observes migrants arriving in small boats across the Channel, warned Miss Patel the consequences of using the controversial 'pushback' tactics would be 'horrific'.

Kim Bryan, from the charity, told BBC Breakfast on Sunday that in the last two weeks her group had spotted, from the cliffs of Dover, Border Force officials practising a pushback using jet-skis.

Miss Patel has threatened to turn boats around and send them back to Europe as part of her 'pushback' plan.

However, French politicians branded the Home Secretary a 'clown', while Mr Darmanin claimed any action to send migrant boats back would be illegal.

The Home Office's permanent secretary, Matthew Rycroft, last month told the Commons Home Affairs Committee only a 'small proportion' of boats could legally be turned back towards France using the tactics. He was also unable to tell when, or if, the policy would be put into practice.

It comes as dozens of people were seen being brought ashore in Dover by Border Force on Saturday after making the perilous Channel crossing.

The arrivals included a woman ushering a small child from Iraq ahead who were guided up a gangway by a border official - while French police were accused

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