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£12m to help tackle Calais migrants

The UK Government will provide £12 million over three years to help tackle the problem of illegal immigrants at Calais hoping to gain entry to Britain.

Home Secretary Theresa May and her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve reached a deal which will also see increased co-operation between the two countries' law enforcement agencies.

The joint plan will also involve bolstering security at the French port, which has seen increasing number of migrants using it as a staging post for efforts to cross the English Channel.

Security and Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: "Earlier today the Home Secretary and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve set out a number of joint commitments to tackle problems at the port of Calais, including bolstering security.

"Their declaration also reaffirms their commitment to closer working by UK and French law enforcement agencies to target organised crime gangs behind people trafficking and smuggling.

"And the two countries will continue to push for action at European and international level to address the wider problem of illegal migration, of which Calais is just one very visible sign.

"The priority now is to implement the practical solutions that have been agreed."

A joint statement issued by Mrs May and Mr Cazeneuve set out plans to reduce the number of illegal migrants, including information campaigns and strengthened security.

They also promised to "respond to health emergencies and protect vulnerable people", particularly victims of human trafficking, but insisted that the measures would not encourage immigrants to gather in Calais.

The statement said they would "ensure that all measures taken will deter illegal migrants from congregating in and around Calais".

The UK will contribute five million euros (£4 million) a year for three years to a joint intervention fund.

Some of the money will be used to construct robust fences and increase security in the parking area at the port.

Officials from both countries will work to improve the quality of border controls, possibly including the installation of new technology to address the dangers of migrants hiding in tankers and refrigerated lorries.

The statement added: "At the same time, efforts will be made to strengthen operational co-operation by establishing permanent joint mechanisms to deliver promptly the comprehensive action plan and enhance co-operation between British and French law enforcement agencies at the border.

"This will include helping to identify measures to ensure migrants do not breach the laws of either country or threaten the safety of Calais residents or those using the port. It will also support improved joint returns initiatives and further comprehensive action against those trying to evade immigration control."

Information campaigns starting next month will explain "the reality of illegal migration and its consequences in the United Kingdom" and also set out information on asylum in France or assisted voluntary return.

Police and border agencies on both sides will co-operate to tackle the organised criminal networks responsible for people smuggling.

The National Crime Agency will second a full-time officer to Ocriest, the French agency responsible for tackling illegal immigration, while the French border police will send two officers each month to work with the joint border intelligence unit in Folkestone.

The ministers also resolved to push for European Union action on an "evident migration crisis" in the Mediterranean Sea.

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