FRENCH police are refusing to intercept small boats as soon as they get into waters – after a string of violent attacks.

Cops are happy to tear gas them and slash their boats on the beaches to try and stop them leaving the shores.

But as soon as migrant boats get into the water, those inside can become increasingly violent and police don't want to approach them for fear of getting hurt, Border Force sources say.

It came after Rishi Sunak claimed small boat crossings had been cut by 20 per cent this year – but critics said it was just the windy weather.

French cops have been threatened with violence and knives to try and scare them off – with multiple injuries reported.

Insiders now say that it is "too dangerous" for the French to rescue outgoing migrant boats – and they are forced just to shadow the boats until they get to English waters instead.

One source said: "It’s only a matter of time before an officer is killed."

Young kids have been dangled over the edge of vessels, and migrants have threatened to slash their own boats in a bid to try and get rid of them.

Boats are being buried in sand dunes along the coastline to try and avoid detection, before being pumped up and set onto the choppy waters.

Tory MP Natalie Elphicke hit out last night.

The Dover MP blasted: "That the French are scared to tackle traffickers underlines how brutal and dangerous these criminal gangs are. 

"This is why France should take up our offer to have joint border enforcement patrols on the beaches so we can work together to bring an end to this violent criminality once and for all."

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Earlier this week the PM announced the UK had secured two more barges to house another 1,000 asylum seekers from the summer.

And the Bibby Stockholm barge will be in operation in Portland, Dorset, within the next fortnight.

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