Home Office denies plans to use sonic devices to turn back migrant boats

The Home Office confirmed that two Border Force vessels were fitted with LRADs for loud hailer communications at sea but said they were not used for 'deterrence'.

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The Government has been accused of “headline-chasing” following reports officials investigated the use of powerful sonic devices to turn around migrant boats in the Channel.

According to reports, No 10 policy officials wanted to use the Long-Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs), which are used to disperse crowds in the US, to deter migrants from making the dangerous crossing.

However the scheme was said to have been blocked by the Home Office after officials warned it was unworkable.

The Home Office confirmed that two Border Force vessels were fitted with LRADs for loud hailer communications at sea but said they were not used for “deterrence”.

“As part of our ongoing operational response and to prevent further loss of life at sea, we continue to test a range of safe and legal options to stop small boats making this dangerous and unnecessary journey,” a spokesman said.

“However, we have no plans to use ‘sonic devices’ to deter migrants and to suggest otherwise is wrong and misleading.”

For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “No 10 seems to have lost any sense of respect or humanity if they can stoop this low for the sake of headlines.

“Targeting sonic weapons at people in small boats will not stop criminal gangs from profiting, it will just put more lives at risk.

“The Home Office is right to reject it.”