On cards new National Crime Agency to deal with serious organised crime 7th May, 2011: A new National Crime Agency to deal with serious organised crime, including a border policing command is underway. The new scheme will bring together officers from Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) the police and the UK Border Agency. This was announced by Home Secretary Theresa May on her first visit to the border controls in Calais.
Tough UK border checks based in France, intended to stop illegal immigrants from entering the UK, was the thrust of May’s visit.
The Home Secretary met her French counterpart, Minister Claude Guéant in Calais. She also interacted with UK Border Agency officers, French and UK police officers and representatives from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to take up the issue, how people and technology were working together to make safe the UK border.
It was observed that this joint working had led to nine organised crime gangs being dismantled and more than 170 arrests in the past year.
May also assured strong realistic action to avoid migrants escaping the turmoil in North Africa from reaching Britain. She said there was no confirmation yet that refugees from the Arab Spring had arrived in this country. She added: "We do need to look ahead to what might be happening in the future."
May said that the Government was not prepared to share the burden of obliging the new arrivals. She said that they need lasting practical co-operation and not burden-sharing.
May added that they very much feel the need to be working with countries in North Africa, like Tunisia, to provide practical support through the EU for them to be able to exercise border controls on their borders.
May said it was clear that the work of UK Border Agency officers based in Calais had made a real pressure, stopping illegal immigrants entering the UK. She also appreciated the increased coordination between French and UK officers.
May asserted that they had seen a noteworthy fall in the number of illegal immigrants attempting to avoid the controls over the past year. The message was getting through “if you’re not legal you’re not welcome”.
May and Minister Guéant confirmed their continued pledge to tackle illegal migration and smuggling. They also highlighted the achievement of the past year. This included the clearing of the ‘jungle’ by the French which had reduced the number of illegal attempts to cross the channel from more than 29,000 in 2009 to just 3,500 so far in 2011.
UK Border Agency officers working at the Channel Tunnel UK Controls showed May how intelligence was used to select passengers suspected of smuggling banned goods.
May was also shown the technology and techniques, including the use of CO2 probes and sniffer dogs, used at the ferry port to check lorries were not carrying illegal immigrants.
The Home Secretary also visited the Joint Operational Coordination Centre (JOCC) where French and UK officers work together to manage the danger posed by organised immigration crime. It allows greater intelligence sharing, a joint approach to border security and inter-agency operations to counter illegal migration.