UK Border Force also has no mandate to assist and facilitate the crossing of the Channel by migrants

From: Wayne Andrews, Chitcombe Road, Broad Oak

Friday, 1st October 2021, 7:51 am
Hastings RNLI. Photo by Sid Saunders

After publishing my letter about the RNLI’s involvement in assisting cross-Channel migrants to reach the UK coastline, there has been a selection of letters disagreeing with my views (Observer, 24 September). As some of the letters amounted to personal attacks on me, I should like to reply.

Firstly, some of the letters almost went as far as to suggest I am somehow “anti-lifeboats”, which is nonsense. I recognise and wholly accept that the RNLI lifeboats have provided a wonderful service for about 150 years. The beautiful ‘pebble memorial’ to the crew of the Mary Stanford at Rye Harbour is stunning, and genuinely moving in its simplicity. I cannot think of a finer way to pay tribute to those and other lifeboat crews.

However, it was interesting (and, I think, telling) that none of the letter writers addressed the wider issues involved, so perhaps a summary of the facts would be helpful:

Every country in the world has immigration laws and policies.

The UK Border Force website includes words such as “enforcement”, “secure” and “immigration and customs controls” in describing its role and duties.

Migrants crossing the Channel in dinghies are entering, or attempting to enter, the country illegally.

The original RNLI Charter, which still applies today, states that its object is, among other things, “establishing efficient lifeboats on the points of the coasts of the United Kingdom most exposed to shipwreck, and organising and training crews ready to man the boats at all times in case of wreck”. Helping migrants cross the Channel is a completely different activity, for which they have no mandate.

The UK Border Force also has no mandate to assist and facilitate the crossing of the Channel by migrants.

The UK government’s policy is to try to stop the cross-Channel trafficking of people.

The UK Border Force and the RNLI are therefore acting in direct contravention of government policy.

Perhaps the angry letter writers would consider one further point: has it occurred to them that the involvement of the RNLI is actually encouraging more cross-Channel migration? Knowing the lifeboats will be there to help to provide safe passage can only help to persuade more people to try.

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