The UK government isn't cooperating with France to supply the references or serial numbers of migrant boats crossing the English Channel and the nationalities involved, revealed a report by the French audit organisation Court of Accounts which has been refuted by the UK Home Office as outdated. Peter Nicholls/Reuters

France and Britain are caught in an immigration tussle regarding stopping the boats as a new French report has emerged which blames the UK for non-cooperation.

The French Court of Accounts published a report that underlines Britain's failure to coordinate with France to stop the boats from crossing the English Channel.

The Court of Accounts is an organisation making audits of spending in France. According to it, the French Police didn't receive the necessary intelligence regarding the boats and the engines used by criminal gangs which are essential in stopping the boats.

However, the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) said it was working closely to provide all the necessary information to French law enforcement and border agencies to stop boats from crossing the English Channel.

The report further elaborated on how this has prevented France from developing operational cooperation arrangements with the UK. This is the primary struggle faced by the joint intelligence unit established by the two countries to stop migrant boats in 2020 which was set up to fight human trafficking and reduce the number of illegal immigrants across the English Channel.

According to the report, Britain didn't provide "usable on the departures of small boats", and had given "very general, first-level information that has not been counter-checked". The information shared by the UK government regarding migrant boat arrivals, circumstances and nationalities is "very patchy", said the report.

"The relationship between France and the UK is therefore unbalanced in terms of information and intelligence exchange," it further added.

However, the UK Home Office has refuted the claims made in the report, saying it was based on "out-of-date information" which does not accurately reflect the current working relationship with France.

A statement issued by the Home Office said that Britain was working closely with French partners and in the last two years the two countries "have taken more robust action to crack down on vile people-smuggling gangs and stop the boats".

This comes at a time when the UK signed the historic and unlawful Rwanda Asylum deal with the Home Office declaring millions were paid to Rwanda for the deal.

Recently, the UK government announced a drop in small boats crossing the English Channel as migrant boats reduced to 29,000 in 2023 from 46,000 in 2022. But leaked government documents reported a possible surge in numbers this year to reach 35,000.

This comes at a time when the Home Office's earlier claim on clearing the immigration backlog was found to be misleading and false. The UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had said that the government has cleared all asylum claims when in reality 4,500 complex cases are awaiting additional checks.

This prompted the Labour Party to accuse the government of making false and misleading claims ahead of the general elections.

The shadow immigration minister from Labour Stephen Kinnock said: "The asylum backlog has rocketed to 165,000 under the Tories – eight times higher than when Labour left office - and no slicing or renaming of the figures can disguise that fact."

"Meanwhile Rishi Sunak's promise made a year ago to end asylum hotel use has been disastrously broken - with a 20 per cent increase to 56,000, costing the British taxpayer more than £2 billion a year," Kinnock added.

UK Government not cross-checking information on migrant boats?

The UK had already invested £500 million to strengthen policing in the dunes and beaches of the Calais coast in northern France where most smugglers take migrants into boats for illegal immigration.

The French report highlights the funding issued by Britain helped in deploying 54 police officers and 135 reservists in the area for nighttime patrolling. These security personnel are equipped with night vision and drones to spot migrants in the early hours and they also have motorbikes and beach buggies.

The NCA is concentrating on cracking down on the gangs' sourcing area of large inflatable boats and engines. So far, they have successfully intercepted 100 boats from getting to the French coast, said NCA Director General Graeme Biggar.

However, the French report insists that the UK government could do more.

"Despite the joint declaration of French and British interior ministers on 14 November 2022, who were committed to improving the work of dismantling the criminal gangs and their resources, the British are not communicating exploitable intelligence on the departures of the small boats, or are giving 'first level' information, which is very general and not cross-referenced," said the report.

"Concerning the ways in which the migrants are arriving, the references or serial numbers of boats or engines, and the nationalities, the information seems very fragmented," the report further added.

According to the NCA, 84 per cent of migrants have been intercepted on the beach or inland and prevented from landing in the UK. The police arrested 246 human traffickers and 86 people piloting migrant boats in 2023.

Because of NCA's insistence on building up vigilance infrastructure, 136 boats and 45 outboard engines could be seized across the English Channel.

The UK government claimed it prevented 26,000 attempted crossing through its partnership with France.