Published: 18:58, 21 May 2020
| Updated: 19:38, 21 May 2020
More than 150 people have been picked up in the English Channel today as migrants attempted to reach the UK from France.
In UK waters, Border Force intercepted five boats carrying a total of 57 people, with the first crossing taking place in the early hours.
At about 3.30am, a vessel carrying a group of 12 men presenting themselves as Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghani was met by Border Force.
By 7.30am, a further four vessels had been intercepted, carrying a further 43 men and two women.
All 57 will be transferred to immigration officials for interview.
One hundred migrants were also intercepted by French authorities today, as they dealt with several incidents on the other side of the Channel.
All were either prevented from leaving French shores, or were returned to France after being picked up in the Channel.
It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel spoke with her French counterpart on May 6, to reaffirm a joint commitment to end the crossings.
During the call they discussed and agreed a number of proposals, including increased deployment of forces on the French coast, returning migrant boats back to France when possible and improved intelligence sharing to tackle organised criminal gangs.
Efforts to clamp down on migrant crossings have been stepped up in France, where there is now 24/7 coverage of northern beaches.
More than 1,100 migrants were arrested in France in the first quarter of this year, compared to 342 arrests in the same period last year.
Chris Philp, Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, said this afternoon: “Today, French police stopped around 100 migrants from putting their lives at risk by attempting to cross to the UK using a small boat.
"This demonstrates the continued and intensified co-operation between the UK and France as well as the significant efforts of French colleagues.
“We are stepping up action to stop these unacceptable crossings, going after the criminals perpetrating these heinous crimes and prosecuting them for their criminal activity.”
The Home Office says coronavirus has had no impact on its operational response to small boat incidents, with Border Force and immigration enforcement staff having the resources needed to tackle illegal crossings.
More by this authorLydia Chantler-Hicks