It was a feverish place where the next day’s serious work manning the beaches was very much the last thought on people’s minds.
Off duty French police inside Calais nightclub La Suite were only focused on having a very good time.
I found myself at the centre of a debauched spectacle as we followed a group of officers intent on drinking as much as possible and finding a partner to share the fun with.
Amid the chaotic atmosphere at the bar with pumping music and officers downing shot after shot of 6 Euro vodka, I was grabbed from behind.
An extremely drunk male officer pressed himself against me and kissed my neck.
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Deeply uncomfortable, I turned to see it was the same man who had been staring at me all night and had approached me earlier. He put his hands around my neck and slurred “I want to buy you a beer.”
Heavy set with a thick neck and tattoos up his arms, this was not the type of person you wanted to anger. He was also persistent. Later that night he cornered me in a seating area and thrust a plastic cup into my hand insisting I drink some of the bottles of vodka and whiskey he had just spent €300 on.
After he’d poured me what must have been €40 of straight spirit his advances acquired a more sinister edge. “I am a policeman” he said, flipping open his warrant badge to reveal the metal insignia that proved it.
His behaviour was unsettling, but it was only an outlier in Calais for the fact it was directed at a man. The majority of the local women I spoke to expected to be sexually assualted by an off duty police officer on a night out.
This is because French cops are among the best customers for the bars of Calais.
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Visit one of the limited number of drinking spots and you’ll find them riotously necking shots until the early hours of most mornings. I saw first hand how officers would get so wasted they’d drunkenly brawl with other punters and mount tables to dance.
Nobody expects these men to behave like monks but the level of partying was alarming for officers of the law, not least because it is being funded by the UK taxpayer.
Time after time I was told by French policemen that it was me paying for their presence in Calais as part of a half-billion pound deal struck by Rishi Sunak and Emanuel Macron in November.
But it is hard to imagine any of these policemen being able to properly function after these raucous nights out.
Not that any of them believed it was possible to stop the migrant crossings. All of the policemen I spoke to were consigned to the notion that having dinghies filled with migrants to levels which are incredibly dangerous would always happen.
In some cases, they even admitted to letting boats sail out into the water when it was possible to stop them.
Their Calais posting is clearly viewed as a cushy assignment and a chance to get on the sauce with their fellow officers.
Patrolling the beaches for migrant vessels the next day appears to be just a relaxing stroll by the sea while they nurse their hangovers.
If we truly want to stop the Channel boats and be sure our money is being spent wisely we need British boots on the ground on these French beaches.
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