The latest weapon in the fight against illegal migration through Calais was officially opened today by Border and Immigration Minister Phil Woolas and Eric Besson French Minister for Immigration.
The Joint Operational Coordination Centre (JOCC) was agreed at the Evian Summit last July and will further improve the strong relationship between the UK and France. It allows greater intelligence sharing, a joint approach to border security and inter-agency operations to counter illegal migration and break up international human trafficking rings.
The centre, which opened in February this year, has already proven successful with joint operations leading to the arrest of two women who were attempting to traffic a girl to the UK for prostitution and a truck driver intercepted with 36 kg of tobacco.
Cooperation between UK Border Agency officers based in Calais and their French counterparts has already created one of the strongest borders in the world. In the last five years officers have stopped around 61,000 individual attempts by people trying to enter the UK illegally.
Phil Woolas said:
“The Joint Operational Coordination Centre is one of the best examples of joint national border control in the world. We are driving home the message that illegal migration will not be tolerated and by working with France we have made our border stronger than ever.
“The centre allows us to share intelligence and carry out joint operations. It comes as part of the £15 million investment that Britain pledged last year to increase searches of vehicles and goods heading for Britain.
“In 2009 officers working at our border controls in France searched over one million lorries and stopped 29,000 individual attempts to cross the channel illegally. Our last set of asylum application figures was the lowest for 18 years, in part because of these controls.”
The centre was opened on the day by Phil Woolas, who met his French counterpart to reiterate their commitment to joint working. The talks focused on tackling illegal migration and organised crime.
Officers from the UK Border Agency, Police Aux Frontières (PAF), Douanes and Calais Chamber of Investment and Commerce (CCIC) will work together at the centre.
Last year the UK committed £15 million to pay for new technology as part of a high-tech pilot in Calais, which has led to the introduction of state-of-the-art technology to boost searches of vehicles and goods heading for Britain. Last year alone, the UK Border Agency seized illegal drugs worth over £237 million and stopped over 27,000 dangerous weapons, including firearms, stun guns and knives from reaching the streets.
1. The commitment to creating the JOCC was made at the Evian Summit in July 2009, where the government pledged £15 million investment to boost border controls.
2. The key tasks of the JOCC are to:
– coordinate efficient operation of detection scanning technology;
– facilitate effective communication between all relevant agencies on key risks and targets;
– act as a central point of contact for external stakeholders;
– organise and coordinate the joint actions of the authorities; and
– act as an effective link between the Joint Intelligence Cell and the front line.