Celebrating the first anniversary of cooperation with the UK on immigration issues in Newport

Last Tuesday, the first anniversary of the “Memorandum of Understanding” was celebrated in Newport with the British Home Office. This is a collaboration with the UK and the West Coast Police District with the province of West Flanders to address the problem of immigration. For the occasion, the British cutter HMC Vigilant was anchored at Nieuwpoort for three days.

The British cutter HMC Vigilant docked Monday at Fonteinenplein on the Kaai in Nieuwpoort. The 42-meter patrol vessel has been used by the UK Border Office for 20 years to guard the UK’s borders at sea. The West Coast Police College received the crew members on Tuesday morning. It happened in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Van Quickenborn, Minister Verlinden, Secretary of State de Moor and Governor Descaloi. There were also some British delegates: British Foreign Secretary/Minister for Immigration Robert Jenrick and British Ambassador Martin Sherman.

1st Anniversary Collaboration

© PZ West Coast

“The West Coast Police District has had an excellent relationship with British neighbors for many years,” reports West Coast’s Helen Engels. “This relationship was strengthened on 22 December 2021 in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ for joint prevention and control of the problem of migration. This reception is part of the first anniversary of the Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Home Office, the County of West Flanders and the West Coast Police District and contributes to addressing immigration. The UK Home Office, the County of West Flanders and the West Coast Police District hold regular consultations. They also organize mutual working visits.”

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“In November, the head of the Police College and Coastal Mayors’ Consultation, Marc Vanden Bosch, together with the Chief of Police, Chairman of the Standing Committee for Local Police Nicholas Baelink and Governor Karl Descaloy, paid a working visit to Dover. They exchanged experiences and ideas with the British Border Force on how to tackle the issue of immigration. Experiences and ideas on this topic were also exchanged during the current working visit of the British Border Force.”

More effective anti-migration

The day began with a laying of flowers at the Newport Memorial followed by a press conference at the West Front Visitor Center. After lunch, the group waited for the British cutter “HMC Vigilant” at the dock at Nieuwpoort and became acquainted with the twelve-man crew. Several words were made to stress the importance of cooperation. Mayor Mark Vanden Bosch, Head of the Police College, said: “I am delighted to welcome the staff, Immigration Minister Jenrick and the other official delegates of UK Border Force.” “Thanks to this visit, we will be able to confront migration in a more targeted and effective way.”

Police Chief Nicholas Baylink also emphasized the importance of cooperation. “Today we celebrate the collaboration between Police Zone West Coast and Home Office UK – UK Borderforce that officially began a year ago. There is an urgent need to join forces now that there are signs that migrants will increasingly use the area between Boulogne and the Belgian coast for illegal and risky crossings into Great Britain. Protecting human lives is our top priority and at the same time we want to put an end to rogue people smugglers and criminals. By joining forces, we are all stronger.” (JH)

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Amber Webster

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