Border officers will get powers to force migrants to give fingerprints in France

Charles Hymas
·3 min read
Officers will be able to use 'reasonable force' to get fingerprints in Calais and Dunkirk - Julian Simmonds
Officers will be able to use 'reasonable force' to get fingerprints in Calais and Dunkirk - Julian Simmonds

Border Force officers are to get powers to make migrants give their fingerprints in France to make it easier to deport them from the UK.

On Tuesday, the Home Office laid regulations in Parliament that will give officers powers to use "reasonable force" to get fingerprints in Calais and Dunkirk if migrants caught trying get to Britain from the ports refuse to do so.

Such biometric data is critical if migrants subsequently manage to reach Britain either hidden in lorries or by using small boats to cross the Channel.

Immigration officials can use the fingerprints to prove that the migrants passed through "safe" countries, including France, before coming to the UK – which means those countries are then legally obliged to take them back. Under the agreements, migrants are expected to apply for asylum in the first safe country they enter, and those countries are required to consider their applications.

The move will help border force officers to enforce new laws, introduced after the Brexit transition period, which make any asylum claim inadmissible if the migrant has travelled through a safe third country before arriving in Britain.

Ministers are also banning migrants from making UK asylum claims at sea after Brexit under a new law that paves the way for border force vessels to intercept them and return them immediately to France. The law removes the current right of migrants to claim asylum when they are rescued at sea by Border Force or Navy vessels.

The immigration minister Chris Philp said: "Today's move builds on steps we have already taken to reform the asylum system, to strengthen border controls and reduce illegal migration.

"It builds on the inadmissibility rules laid before Parliament last month, with fingerprints collected by Border Force at the juxtaposed controls expected to form an important part of the evidence base in determining inadmissible cases.

"These measures will help reduce the strain on asylum staff, allowing them to focus on processing genuine claims from those in need of help. This Government is fixing our broken asylum system to deliver a firmer and fairer system."

A record 8,410 migrants were intercepted making the treacherous Channel crossing by small boat last year, more than four times the 1,850 who made the journey in 2019. Tougher measures to combat sea crossings have seen the numbers attempting to get into Britain in lorries increase.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, is also preparing a Sovereign Borders Bill to reform asylum, including curbing "litigious" human rights claimants who seek to delay their deportation from Britain after their cases are refused.

Under the proposed changes, judges will be expected to place more weight on asylum seekers' criminal records when considering their appeals against deportation. Currently, serious criminals including killers and rapists trump deportation orders in the courts by claiming their human rights will be infringed if they are sent back to their home countries.

Ms Patel is also planning to tighten the appeals system for non-criminal claimants. They will have to lodge all their arguments at the beginning of a case so they cannot make a series of legal claims to delay deportation.