In joint raids, European police forces confiscate life jackets, making it more difficult for refugees to cross into the UK. The German Federal Police are also taking part.
Both the German Federal Police and the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) are again participating in cooperative efforts to prosecute smuggling across the English Channel. This was reported by the Federal Ministry of the Interior in its answer to a parliamentary question by Clara Bünger, a member of the Left Party. The efforts of police authorities are accompanied by meetings in the so-called Calais format. There, the interior ministers of countries bordering the English Channel gather. “Germany also participates – despite being only indirectly affected – in meetings of the Calais Group,” the response says.
The measures financially supported by the European Union are intended to support the migration defense of the government in London. To that end, the countries are participating in the French-led, multi-year “Small Boats” operation. It targets structures suspected of being in the Netherlands and Germany, among other countries. After all, on the mainland side of the English Channel, authorities have now made it more difficult for migrants to acquire the rigid-hulled inflatable boats needed for crossings.
Another police operation by police forces from the UK and Germany was aimed at disrupting supply chains for small watercraft and engines, as well as life jackets. Manufacturing companies and vendors were supposed to report “suspicious activity” to the police for this purpose. However, according to the ministerial response to the request, the activity was terminated “at the request of the United Kingdom.” The German Interior Ministry does not provide details on the reasons.
“Fleeing is not a crime and criminalizing so-called smuggling is a completely wrong approach. Experience shows that more control and stricter repression result in refugees having to turn to more dangerous routes or unsafe boats, which leads to even more deaths,” questioner Bünger tells “nd”. Presumably, the measures involving the BKA and the Federal Police have led to more frequent crossings of the English Channel by inflatable recreational boats.
A year ago, the Federal Police were involved in Europe-wide raids against suspected smugglers crossing the English Channel route. With 18 of the total 39 arrests, most of the accused were detained in Germany. In more than 50 searches, over 1200 life jackets, around 150 inflatable boats and 50 engines were seized.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: Life jackets seized by the Federal Police can now no longer be used to make crossings safer (Europol).