Clandestine Migrants (Harwich)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 8th June 2015.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Minister of State (Home Office) (Security and Immigration) 3:35 pm, 8th June 2015

The right hon. Gentleman has asked a series of questions. I may not be able to answer all of them in the time available, but I welcome his constructive approach.

The right hon. Gentleman highlights the need to work jointly with other European countries, and I agree. That is why we have a dedicated UK taskforce in Dover which provides real-time intelligence and investigation response to all operations. For example with links to France and Belgium, 32 live investigations and 22 organised crime groups have already been disrupted since February 2014, and the total custodial sentences to date is 148 years. I hope that responds on his question about the body of work.

The right hon. Gentleman highlights the work that we have rightly undertaken in Calais with the French authorities—the £12 million joint investment with the French Government to strengthen security at that port.

That is on top of additional investment in screening and other detection equipment, which underlines our strong, practical response.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about the number of Border Force officers—there are around 8,000. They are deployed flexibly, by which I mean that is dependent on the intelligence that we see for a particular port at any one time. Therefore, it is not appropriate to give the breakdown or percentages that he seeks, but we rightly take a responsive stance to deal with such issues.

The right hon. Gentleman also highlighted the need to ensure adherence to the Dublin regulations that allow us to return people who may have been able to claim asylum in other countries. We take that responsibility seriously and we continue to press other European countries in that regard.

One of the key things is to ensure that those who arrive in the European Union are properly fingerprinted and that we have the identification of those who come to our shores. More work needs to be done on that and we will continue to press other European countries to fulfil their responsibilities.