Published: 10:32, 30 December 2018
| Updated: 10:04, 31 December 2018
Pictures have emerged of six suspected migrants on Kingsdown beach this morning.
An eye witness who doesn't want to be named was walking her dog about 8am when she says she saw six men - who are now known to be Iranian nationals - on the beach with a small craft.
She described them as mostly "men in their 30s", "well dressed" but "sodden".
Border Force officials are also pictured at the scene in front of The Zetland Arms pub.
They provided the group with blankets before they were taken for a medical assessment and transferred to immigration officials for processing.
Pub staff who also witnessed the incident say the area was cleared by 10am.
The incident comes after more than 220 people have attempted to cross the English Channel in small boats since November.
On Friday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared the matter a "major incident" prompting him to cut short a family holiday in South Africa to deal with it.
He is expected to be back at his desk tomorrow.
Immigration Minister's Caroline Nokes visited Dover yesterday.
She defended the government's handling of the rise in migrants crossing the Channel.
She told media that the number of patrol boats was being "constantly reviewed", but it was "feasible that were we to put additional craft they might act as a magnet - encouraging people to make a perilous crossing".
She said the UK was working with France to try to prevent migrants from setting out in the first place as well as to find the most effective route for returns "for those who it is appropriate for."
The National Crime Agency say tackling the criminals behind these dangerous attempts is an "operational priority", with three arrests already made.
Speaking yesterday, Chris Hogben, head of the NCA-led Invigor organised immigration crime task force, said: "We are devoting significant resources to disrupting this activity, including officers deployed to support the work of our French colleagues, a team of officers developing intelligence on the groups involved, investigators working on UK based crime groups, as well as deploying our full range of specialist covert capabilities to disrupt the criminals involved and pursue their finances."
He said that their cooperative work has already prevented "dozens" of attempted crossings and last week three suspected facilitators were arrested and charged in France. They will face trial in the New Year.
He added: "Over the last three weeks our French colleagues have disrupted numerous attempts, recovering at least 95 migrants including nine children, and arrested seven people caught attempting to facilitate these crossings.
"Working with our French partners we would anticipate further arrests over the coming weeks and also more attempts to reach the UK are likely.
"Our response to these attempts is not limited to activity around Calais; the NCA-led organised immigration crime task force is working closely with law enforcement partners in the UK and France - as well as upstream in Europe and further afield - to gather intelligence and disrupt the organised crime groups involved.
"The organised criminals behind these most recent attempts are in the main not UK-based, but through our close collaboration with French authorities we are still having an impact on them and their activity.
"We are pursuing operational leads in both the UK and with our French partners, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to bring people smugglers targeting the UK to justice, whether they are operating in the UK itself or France.
"But criminal investigations of this nature are complex and take time. It would not be appropriate to give a running commentary on them.
"Trying to cross the Channel in this way is highly dangerous.
"We know that there have been organised criminals with a complete lack of regard for human life involved in organising many of them, however it is also clear that some of them have been opportunistic and made by migrants themselves without the assistance of organised criminality.
"While these attempts are high profile and high risk, the biggest threat posed by organised criminals trying to smuggle people into the UK remains at south coast ports via HGVs rather than through the use of small maritime vessels."