Access to the territory and push backs

United Kingdom

Country Report: Access to the territory and push backs Last updated: 30/11/20


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Access to the territory and push backs

The UK government has made several statements on the clearance of the unofficial Calais camps outlining its position and actions, including a statement by the Home Secretary on 24 October 2016.[1]

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.[2]

An increase in the number of individuals attempting to enter the UK having travelled across the Channel using small unregulated vessels led to the Home Secretary making statements in relation to border control and declaring the issue a ‘major incident’. According to the statement, over 500 people attempted to enter the UK by sea in 2018.[3] The statement appeared not to introduce any new regulations or practice other than a commitment to ensure that the Safe Third Country guidance is followed and an increase in capacity of border control vessels to monitor the situation. Media outlets continued to pay attention to this issue and the BBC reported in December 2019 that the number of people successfully crossing reached almost 1,900 in 2019.[4]

A further statement was made on 24 January 2019 following an agreement between the Home Secretary and French Interior Minister announcing more cooperation and funding building on what is described as successful interventions aimed at preventing these crossings.[5] A statement following the meeting of the Home Secretary and French Interior Minister in August 2019 appeared to make no new firm commitments.[6]












[1]Government, ‘Home Secretary's statement on the transfer of unaccompanied minors from Calais camp’, 24 October 2016, available at:

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

[3] Secretary of State for the Home Department, ‘Statement: migrant crossings’, 7 January 2019, available at: See also Refugee Council, ‘Refugee Council responds to Home Secretary's Ministerial comment on Channel crossings’, 8 January 2019, available at:

[4]BBC, Migrant numbers double one year after ‘major incident’, 31st December 2019, available at:

[5]Home Office, ‘UK and France sign action plan to tackle small boat crossings’, 24 January 2019, available at:

[6]Home Office, Joint statement: Britain and France to strengthen joint action against small boats, 30th August 2019, 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