The surge in criminal migrants poses a “significant risk” to national security, the Border Force union has warned the Home Secretary.
In a letter to Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, the ISU said there had been a “substantial” change in the profile of migrants to “young, fit males” with suspected links to organised crime groups.
They warned that this posed a “real risk of serious disorder”, with officers already having faced “concerning incidents” including assaults and migrants fashioning makeshift weapons.
“We believe this stark change in arrival profile poses significant criminality risks to our Border Security and to UK communities,” the ISU said in its letter, seen by The Telegraph.
It follows a surge in the number of Albanians, who now account for up to 60 per cent of Channel migrants, with as many as 7,000 thought to have reached the UK so far this year.
The crisis has come to a head because of overcrowding at the new Manston reception centre in Kent, where 2,000 people are being held for up to two weeks at a site designed for just 600 to be held for only 24 to 48 hours.
Border Force officers said Manston’s “excessively crowded,” unsanitary and chaotic conditions were a “powder keg”. It has been compounded this week by the arrival of more than 2,800 Channel migrants since Sunday, bringing the total this year to 36,500, compared with 28,500 for the whole of last year.
“The issue has broadened from processing asylum-seekers into a wider threat to our border security,” said the ISU. “We are now seeing greater numbers of young fit male migrants, without clear prima facie asylum grounds – and on occasions not applying for asylum – and with suspected links to organised crime groups.
“Detaining large numbers of these migrants under poor conditions for prolonged periods at Manston presents a real risk of serious disorder. There is every likelihood that, as further mass arrivals mount and the situation on site continues to degenerate, these risks will grow beyond ready containment.
“Our members report a deepening spiral of volatility with real potential to explode at any perceived provocation. We genuinely fear we will soon see mass disorder at Manston.”
The union called for an urgent investigation by independent watchdogs and the Health and Safety Executive and demanded that ministers institute a radical change in an operational model that was “no longer fit for purpose”.
“Managers simply do not have the resources to deal effectively with the scale of risks we now face,” it added.
On Thursday, it emerged that Channel migrants are taking free buses to get to beaches under the noses of French gendarme. They are using them to travel from camps around Dunkirk and Calais to beaches before walking to sand dunes and hiding, ready for the people-smugglers to bring their boats.
They were filmed by an undercover BBC team posing as a migrant with a pregnant wife and two-year-old daughter being charged £2,800 to cross the Channel.
The disclosure provoked fury in Britain. Natalie Elphicke, the Dover MP, said it was “breathtaking” and pledged to raise it with Ms Braverman, while former minister Tim Loughton, a member of the Home Affairs Committee, said France should be taking every measure to disrupt the people-smugglers.
It came as the Government faced a fresh High Court challenge to its policy to deport migrants to Rwanda to claim asylum by a charity that claimed the three-week time limit in which to process arrivals before their removal was too quick, unfair and unlawful.
The Home Office admitted that small boat Channel crossings were causing an “unprecedented strain” on the asylum system but a spokesman said: “Manston is resourced and equipped to process migrants securely and we will provide alternative accommodation as soon as possible.
“Those entering the UK illegally via the Channel will not be allowed to start a new life here. These individuals will be in scope to be relocated to Rwanda.”