UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid will reveal the plans January 24 after a meeting with French interior minister Christophe Castaner in London.
Britain will pay France US$7.83 million (£6 million) for high-tech surveillance equipment — including drones, CCTV cameras and night-vision equipment — to optimize monitoring of Northern France, in an attempt to prevent more migrants crossing the 21-mile-long Channel and entering the UK.
Javid and Castaner will also discuss boosting patrols by Border Force and French boats to ensure key areas of the Channel are under surveillance in perpetuity.
Speaking to the Telegraph newspaper, a French Government source said it was in the interests of both countries.
“Britain doesn’t want an influx of migrants and France doesn’t want the northern French coast to become a magnet for migrants who see that it’s possible to cross the Channel successfully. France is paying for policing of the coast, which costs millions and constitutes the majority of expenditure on preventing the crossings, which is why Britain is paying for the equipment. France pays for manpower and the UK for hardware,” they explained.
A joint publicity campaign will also be launched to warn migrants they are risking their lives at-tempting to cross the Channel. The talks come after several MPs expressed concern current measures aren’t deterring desperate migrants from attempting to reach UK shores. Official estimates suggest 39 migrants did so this week alone, and over 200 made the crossing in the last two months of 2018 — in the first three weeks of November over 100 made the voyage, often in inflatable dinghies. Police have likened such efforts to “trying to cross the M25 at rush-hour on foot”.
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke welcomed the introduction of aerial surveillance.
“I have consistently called for 24/7 aerial surveillance of the English Channel to ensure any migrants leaving the coast of France should be intercepted and helped safely back to the French coast. The introduction of aerial surveillance is the right step to take and I hope the Home Secretary and his opposite number will put it in place as swiftly as possible,” he said.
Since 2014 Britain has paid US$193 million (£148 million) on security installations in the Calais area, including fencing around the Eurotunnel, lighting on motorways, CCTV and private security guards.