French police foil migrants attempting to cross English Channel by puncturing boat and destroying engine

The group of migrants, which included men, women and children, were intercepted on the beach in Gravelines

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French police have been pictured foiling a migrant crossing to the UK by puncturing their boat and destroying the engine.

The intervention from officials took place in Gravelines, a resort between Calais and Dunkirk on Saturday evening.

In several photographs, the officers can be clearly seen puncturing the inflatable with a knife and smashing up the boat’s outboard motor.

As a large group of migrants carrying the boat made a dash for the sea, an unmarked police vehicle is seen racing along the sands to intercept them.

Migrants made their way down the beach at Gravelines in France
Migrants made their way down the beach at Gravelines in France
But before the migrants could reach the water, french police arrived
But before the migrants could reach the water, french police arrived

Moments later, police jumped out and stabbed the inflatable with a large knife, before turning their attention on the vessel’s outboard motor.

The change in tactic has been welcomed by Tony Smith, the former head of UK Border Force, who said he had been calling for more robust action by French law enforcement officials for some time.

“This is a good sign that we are now seeing this kind of operational collaboration,” he said.

“I hope very much that the French police will continue to augment their resources on the French beaches and to disable these vessels because that can only be beneficial to us.”

Police slashed the boat and destroyed the engine
Police slashed the boat and destroyed the engine
The migrants then returned back off the beach as police continued to deflate their boat
The migrants then returned back off the beach as police continued to deflate their boat
Police smiled and shook hands with each other after destroying the dinghy
Police smiled and shook hands with each other after destroying the dinghy

But Alp Mehmet from Migration Watch said he believed the tactic “smacked of desperation.”

“We’ve gone from drones to stabbing inflatables. I doubt it will have much impact beyond just slowing them down. They’ll go back, regroup and find another vessel.”

Despite the success, the total number of people who have crossed the English Channel so far this year passed 18,000 on Sunday, Ministry of Defence figures suggested.

On Saturday, 337 people crossed the Channel in 10 small boats, bringing the total number of people brought to the UK this year to 18,108.

The milestone was broken just five days after 696 people were rescued by Border Force and brought to shore on Monday, the busiest day for Channel crossings so far this year.

The busiest week for crossings so far in 2022 was the week to April 19 when 2,076 people made the dangerous journey across the Channel.

But it is likely crossings will continue into next week, with the Met Office confirming warm weather and calm winds are set to continue in the south east of England.

Already today, four small boats have been intercepted by UK authorities and 164 people brought to the Border Force processing centre at Dover Harbour.

GB News analysis of the latest arrivals reveals that a total of 18,448 Channel migrants have crossed in small boats since 1 January this year.