WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
February 19 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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“Habituated” rescuers delayed investigating rescue calls – Report

“Habituated” rescuers delayed investigating rescue calls – Report

A report into the deaths of 27 migrants at sea found that “habituated” Border Force crew did not properly investigate distress calls.

In November 2021, 27 migrants drowned and 4 more are missing from the worst maritime disaster in the channel for 30 years. It took 12 hours to respond to the Mayday calls as French and British coastguards disputed responsibility. BY the time help arrived, only two passengers remained.

The report, by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, attributed the drownings to communication problems, a lack of ariel surveillance, and a lack of resources, as well as the risks of migration in a poor-quality vessel. Among those criticised were the crew of a Border Force ship. The crew, having found a migrant boat which was not in distress, did not investigate further – nor did the Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre.

The report attributes this to a belief that the distress call had been falsely exaggerated: “the responders [rationalised] incident Charlie as being another instance of exaggerated distress”. This contributed to the delay in finding the actual vessel until over two dozen people had drowned.

The families of those who died are claiming the report is incomplete. A solicitor representing the families, Maria Thomas, said that the report “failed to investigate potential systemic failings during the incident, which may have contributed to the scale of the accident and give rise to a risk of loss of life in the future”.

The report has recommended that the UK work more closely with French authorities to improve the transfer of information concerning migrant Channel crossings. The UK Coastguard should also develop new procedures to improve surveillance where aerial surveillance is not available