Britain First have been branded “scumbags” for launching patrols along the South Coast in a bid to stop migrants landing in dinghies.
The hardline right wing group said they will patrol to “lookout” for illegal asylum seekers and have vowed to step up their campaign along the White Cliffs in the coming weeks as desperate people try the dangerous crossing before winter.
Leader Paul Golding confirmed the first of the “patriot migrant patrols” had taken place at Samphire Hoe Beach last Saturday.
The group will even station members on piers in a bid to catch sight of suspected migrants sooner.
Keeping a close eye out for migrant crossings
A statement from the group said: “This particular beach has been the main landing ground for multiple illegal migrant crossings.
“Equipped with torches, binoculars and hi-vis jackets, our activists patrolled the beach keeping a close eye out for migrant crossings.
“Until this situation is dealt with decisively by the authorities, we will continue and escalate these patrols.”
Shocking, provocative and irresponsible
Councillor Ben Bano, also co-director of Seeking Sanctuary, which promotes awareness of the plight of refugees, called them “shocking, provocative and irresponsible”.
He said: “This is an unhelpful and unnecessary initiative, which will only inflame tensions.
“The various statutory bodies including the Border Force and the Coastguard are well able and equipped to deal with migrants arriving at our coast without any involvement or interference from other bodies.
A total of 187 people crossed the Channel in seven days from September 10, when an unprecedented total of 86 people were picked up in six crossings.
Britain First’s actions have attracted wide condemnation from anti-racism groups.
Weyman Bennett, co convenor Stand Up To Racism said:
“It is a shocking indictment of the atmosphere that has been created here, with the Tories’ ‘hostile environment’, and Boris Johnson’s cabinet’s intent on intensifying it, that we have a fascist group like Britain First having the confidence to launch such a racist initiative.
“Given the hateful politics of this group, the name of their vile stunt – ‘Operation White Cliffs’ suggests a chilling echo of the kind of references to ideologies of Germany in the 1930s.
“It aims to champion the hunting of the most desperate people who are only doing what any of us would do in embarking on the most horrendous and dangerous journeys to find a better life for their families.”
Respect for British law
Clare Mosley, Care 4 Calais, said: “We are shocked and concerned to learn of this unsettling development on our Kent coastline.
“When deeply traumatised men, women and children arrive on our shores they are often in need of medical attention and should be met by professionals.
“We urge anyone who thinks otherwise to please think again.
“Whatever your opinion regarding the arrival of people from France, we believe it is essential to maintain respect for British law and trust in the work carried out by our emergency response services.”
“We stand with other working class people, not against them“
Riccardo La Torre, firefighter and Eastern Region Secretary of the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) said:
“The announcement by far right activists to begin migrant patrols along the coast is despicable – these have a go, racist vigilantes have no place in any kind of enforcement or emergency activities and will only serve to make conditions and tensions worse.
“These groups claim to be the voice of the working class, but now they want to act as an arm of the authorities by patrolling beaches to apprehend struggling working class people desperately trying to get to safety.
“Me and my watch at the fire station were once asked to assist the police in apprehending suspected migrants allegedly hiding in a lorry.
“They weren’t in any danger so we flat out refused, because as firefighters we help people we don’t apprehend them.
“We are a humanitarian service , not an enforcement service. We stand with other working class people, not against them.
“This latest stunt shows exactly who these far right groups truly serve, and it certainly isn’t workers like us”