Surge In Cross-Channel Migration

Pressuring Belgian Highway Police


LodkimSmall boats used by migrants to cross the English Channel. PHOTO: ISTOCKThe growing number of migrants trying to cross the English Channel by small boats has seriously affected the everyday work of ROADPOL members, among which Belgian Highway Police.

Recently several cases of illegal migrant activity were detected by road police patrols. In two of the cases a vehicle was intercepted with life jackets for small boats in it.


In the first case a patrol from the traffic police in Kortrijk noticed a Ducato light goods vehicle with a German number plate, which reduced its speed visibly when seeing a police patrol. Belgian colleagues proceeded to check the vehicle. In the cargo hold they found a total of 36 life jackets, an inflatable Zodiac Rhib boat, petrol, an outboard motor and other nautical equipment. The driver of Syrian origin was not able to produce a CMR or any other explanation as to why he is carrying this load. He was detained.

In another case a traffic police patrol noticed a sppeding German Audi Q7 on the E17 in the direction of France. The driver reacted hesitantly to the call to follow colleagues for a check-up. The reason for this was immediately clear once the police team searched the vehicle. On the back seat and in the trunk 1 outboard motor, 2 bidons of petrol, 28 life jackets and an inflatable boat type rhib were found. After contacting the public prosecutor's office, the driver of Syrian origin was immediately arrested for human trafficking and all materials were confiscated.

Graham VerschaeveGraham Verschaeve


Belgium was already affected by the problem of transmigrants years before the Brexit, with many trying to climb into lorries on motorway car parks in order to get to Great Britain“, says Superintendent Graham Verschaeve from the Federal Highway Police of Belgium of the challenges faced by the force. “This not only causes inconvenience and a greater sense of insecurity, but also creates problems when a police patrol approaches. Often the transmigrants flee and even cross the motorway which creates grave road safety risks”, Verschaeve further explains.


During the last years Belgian Highway Police have also had several pursuits of vans carrying migrants. They have found migrants on highway parkings that have been stealing or have been trying to force their way into a lorry. This is one of the reasons why camera surveillance and even private surveillance are provided at several most affected motorway car parking lots. „The problem of transmigration causes a redistribution of human resource which affects road safety. The reason is that because of these interventions patrols of the highway police cannot focus on their priority task of enhancing road safety“, Verschaeve concludes.

Meanwhile due to the recent surge of migrants European border guard agency Frontex deployed a Danish plane to fly over the French and Belgian coast. This aerial observation makes it possible to better identify and rescue migrants attempting the potentially deadly crossing of the English Channel.