Access to the territory and push backs

United Kingdom

Country Report: Access to the territory and push backs Last updated: 14/03/22


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Juxtaposed border controls in France and Belgium allow the UK to limit access to the territory. On 18 January 2018 the two governments reiterated their commitment to juxtaposed controls in the Sandhurst Agreement, although no new measures were introduced relating to the operation of those controls.[1]Discussions have taken place between the two states regarding responsibility for search and rescue as well as preventative measures. In January 2022 the UK government announced that the military would play a role in what appeared to be pushbacks, not search and rescue. During an urgent parliamentary debate, the Defence Minister stated that the Royal Navy would play a deterrent rather than a pushbacks role (including the use of Sonic booms) but was not speaking on behalf of the entire government[2] .

The UK government continues to blame ‘criminal smuggling gangs’ and individuals themselves for the danger to life –  condemning the actions of both and pledging both to return those who travel from France and promising to treat such people in the criminal justice system as well as making agreements with the French government to prevent people from leaving in this manner. The Home Secretary appointed a Clandestine Channel Threat Commander in August 2020.[3] In September 2020 a parliamentary committee opened a new inquiry on the issue of channel crossings and asylum-seeking routes thought the EU and has taken written and oral evidence.[4]



[1] Secretary of State for the Home Department, ‘Statement to Parliament’, HCWS415, 19 January 2018, available at:

[2] Hansard parliamentary record 18th January 2022, available at:

[3]Government announcement: Home Secretary appoints small boats commander, August 2020, available at:

[4] Home Affairs Select Committee, at:, Case note and link to judgment Da and Ors, available at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection