Police reinforcements including at least 150 riot control officers have been drafted into Calais as UK-bound migrants set up burning roadblocks to stop lorries.
They use the motorway obstructions to get lorries heading to England to stop, so they can climb aboard and hide until reaching their destination. The tactics have been used at least three times in as many weeks, with images shot in the early hours of June 9 showing rubble and branches piled up on the A16 in Calais.
A Polish HGV driver who regularly travels between his home country and Britain posted a video of the incident online, and it shows gangs of mainly young men running along the busy road brandishing weapons and trying to climb into lorries. It is all part of a deteriorating security situation in the French port town which has led to 150 CRS (Republican Security Companies) new officers arriving.
‘Local forces have asked for more support, and we have responded with a new detachments of CRS,’ said an Interior Ministry source in Paris. ‘The exact number of police in the Calais area is not released publicly, but a large number of personnel are in place to maintain security.’
These include soldiers and specialist anti-terrorism teams, as well as regular National Police and gendarmes, said the Interior Ministry source. It was in October last year that some 8,000 would-be asylum seekers were evacuated from Calais following the destruction of the so-called Jungle shanty town. Since then everything has been done to stop them returning, with a zero tolerance approach to new settlements.
But with temperatures reaching 25C, more migrants are arriving, and resuming their efforts to get across the Channel. The prefecture which covers Calais estimates that some 300 are currently sleeping rough in the area, while charity groups say the figure is more like 600.
‘The barricade of June 9 was by a slip road off the motorway,’ said a prefecture spokesman. ‘Police arrived very quickly and the obstacles were withdrawn. There was no serious traffic disruption, and no arrests.’
But a police source said ‘dozens of well organised migrants’ were behind the trouble, and it was continuing night after night.
‘We had to deal with it for years before the Jungle was destroyed, and now it’s starting up again,’ said the police source. ‘As the weather gets warmer, there will be more of this.’
Charities have complained the police are trying to stop food and water hand-outs to the migrants, but in turn the police say they have to carry out Interior Ministry orders.
The situation was expected to be among subjects discussed by Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday. Mrs May was a frequent visitor to Calais during her time as Home Secretary and has pledged to help make the ferry crossings and Channel Tunnel watertight to migrants.
There are fears that the passionately pro-EU Mr Macron will try and move border checks back to Britain as Brexit talks approach. This could lead to camps like the Jungle springing up on the south coast of England as the French allow vast numbers of asylum seekers to travel straight to the UK.
Video footage shows how migrants have placed burning trees across a motorway. In the shocking footage men are seen waving clubs at truck drivers, as they try to board the UK-bound lorries. The Calais migrant camp was razed to the ground in October meaning some 8,000 refugees waiting to get into Britain were moved across France.
They have now started filtering back towards the north coast in an attempt to launch a fresh bid to reach the UK in the warmer summer months.
With the uncertainty of Brexit and with the French government going though a transitional period under Emmanuel Macron, the border could be seen as a soft target by those looking to cross it.
At the end of May a French official warned of a fresh surge of migrants in Calais trying to get into the UK just six months after the notorious Jungle camp was closed. President of the Regional Council of Hauts-de-France Xavier Bertrand wrote to Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to say a summer swell is imminent. It was expected to bring with it a wave of violence, and prompted British truckers to call for increased protection in Calais following the first serious attacks by migrants since the demolition of the refugee camp.
The warning wasn’t acted upon, and a couple of days later UK-bound migrants set fire to an improvised barricade in the middle of a busy motorway near Calais.
Migrants tried to use the obstruction on the A16 at Marck to force lorries heading to England to stop so they could climb aboard and the tactic has been repeated.
It is just over six months since the vast shantytown was torn to the ground, and some 8,000 UK-bound asylum seekers dispersed across France. Officially, they are all now banned from the Calais area, but a series of ‘extremely violent’ incidents last Sunday shows they are slowly returning.
‘They set up roadblocks using dustbins, and then tried to stop lorries heading for England so they could get aboard,’ said a local police source.
‘Two windscreens were smashed, while another lorry had its tyres punctured. One driver was taken to hospital with face injuries.’
In turn, Pauline Bastidon, of the Freight Transport Association, said: ‘There is a need for urgent action by the French government to ensure that the area is policed adequately, and to protect drivers transporting goods, so that trade can continue to flow freely between France and the UK.’
Via Daily Mail