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The BBC's Justin Webb
"The governments seem to be co-operating as closely as they can"
 real 28k

The BBC's Angus Roxburgh
"The deal allows British officials to patrol in France."
 real 28k

Home Secretary, Jack Straw
"A major step forward in joint co-operation"
 real 28k

Monday, 29 May, 2000, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Crackdown on Eurostar immigration
Eurostar is the target of immigration racketeers
Britain and France have signed a formal agreement in an effort to crack down on illegal asylum seekers entering the UK by Eurostar.

It will enable British officials to patrol French stations on the lookout for illegal immigrants trying to board Channel Tunnel trains.

The measures will increase our efforts to deter unfounded asylum seekers

Home Secretary Jack Straw
In return French officers will be able to work at Eurostar's Ashford and Waterloo terminals.

In recent months the cross-Channel rail service has become an increasingly popular route for people seeking a new life in the UK.

But immigration officers will be allowed to vet those boarding the train in France under the agreement Home Secretary Jack Straw made at a meeting of European justice ministers in Brussels.

A permanent UK immigration office could be established at the busy Gare du Nord station in Paris, with officers also patrolling other stations visited by the Eurostar service.

Crime-fighting agreement

Mr Straw expects the new measures to come into force next year.

"The measures will increase our efforts to deter unfounded asylum seekers and the people who organise the illegal immigration rackets," he said.

British police also received a boost in their fight against international crime, particularly drug smuggling, as the UK finally signed up to a cross-border crime fighting initiative, part of the Schengen agreement.

Effectively removing borders between European states, it includes systems that help police target criminals operating across the EU.

Britain has opted out of the sections that would remove border controls but UK police will benefit from initiatives such as systems tracking illegal arms and stolen vehicles as they are moved from country to country.

They will also be aided by another agreement allowing police in different states to share information, which was signed by Mr Straw.

The EU Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance will up-date the sometimes archaic way evidence is provided by police from other nations which in many cases has emerged from historic diplomatic channels unsuited to modern policing.

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