The colossal drain on the public purse can be disclosed for the first time after the Daily Express obtained Home Office documents laying bare the scale of the outlay. They show £508 million has been thrown at the crisis since 2010/11 – equal to £50.8 million a year. It comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel promised a new “firm and fair” arrangement to fix Britain’s “broken asylum system” after a year in which record numbers had attempted to cross the Channel illegally.
On Sunday night, Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover & Deal, said: “Just throwing money at the French isn’t stopping the channel crossings.
“A fresh new approach is needed which sees boats turned around and the immediate return of illegal entrants.
“It’s only when migrants and traffickers alike know that they can’t break into Britain that these dangerous small boat crossings will come to an end.”
Analysis shows more than 5,000 migrants have landed in small boats, or have been rescued trying to cross to the UK from northern France, since the start of the year.
Desperate families have been strong-armed into paying ruthless people trafficking networks tens of thousand of pounds for the promise of safe passage.
But many are forced to navigate the perilous 21-mile crossing in overcrowded and dangerous crafts.
Last week the vile trade in human misery left at least four people dead after a migrant boat sank in the Channel off the coast of Dunkirk.
Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, both 35, drowned along with two of their children – nine-year-old Anita and six-year-old Armin.
Their third child Artin, who was only 15-months old, is presumed dead along with two other adults.
A 37-year-old Iranian suspected of piloting the vessel has appeared in court.
The Daily Express demanded to know how much taxpayers’ cash had been spent attempting to deter illegal immigration from Calais and the surrounding region over the past decade.
Official figures reveal the bill now stands at £508 million.
In 2010/11 £39.1m was spent, a figure that rocketed to £111.7m in 2015/16 at the peak of the crisis in Calais when the notorious Jungle migrant camp was home to 10,000.
In 2018/19 taxpayers forked out £56.2m and in 2019/20 – the latest available – £31.7m was thrown at the problem.
The Home Office said: “The issue of illegal migration continues to pose a shared problem and the UK Government is committed to working with France in order to maintain the integrity of our shared border.
“Whilst the majority of attempts at illegal entry are through the juxtaposed controls [which sees the UK border in France and vice versa] in recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel using small boats and other unseaworthy vessels.
“The UK is also committed to putting a stop to these crossings, which are regularly facilitated by organised criminal groups. Tackling illegal migration requires sustained investment from both countries, in order to improve security procedures and detection capabilities.”
The department said securing the border and successfully tackling illegal migration required “continued investment”.
It said over the past decade the funding had allowed Britain to make “substantial improvements” to the security infrastructure at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk, which have reduced illegal migration and maintained the safety of the substantial traffic which travels through them.
A spokesman added: “We are committed to fixing the broken asylum system, to stop those who have no right to be in the UK coming here. The new system will be firm and fair and will be compassionate towards those who need our help, welcoming people through safe and legal routes.
“Illegal migration is – and has always been – a complex issue but we will continue to hunt down the criminal gangs who traffic people into our country.
“We are working closely with the French who have increased the number of interventions they have made to stop crossings this year by a significant margin.
“This year the French have stopped more than 5,000 people from making this crossing, seizing boats and equipment and intercepting people inland.”