Published: 20:29, 25 April 2020
| Updated: 08:49, 26 April 2020
A total of 35 asylum seekers in less than a day have been rescued off the coast of Kent.
Border Force intercepted three vessels carrying people from Iraq, Iran and Kuwait.
At around 3.40am a RHIB holding 14 males and 1 female, presenting themselves as Iranian, Kuwaiti and Iraqi, was stopped.
Three hours later a second vessel carrying a group of 13 males presenting themselves as Iraqi and Iranian was intercepted.
And at 8am they stopped a third small boat carrying seven males, presenting themselves as Iraqi and Iranian.
All individuals were brought to Dover and were assessed to establish whether there are any medical requirements.
All will be transferred to immigration officials. They will be interviewed and their cases will be dealt with in line with the immigration rules, transferring to detention where appropriate.
A Border Force spokesman added: "In line with Public Health England guidance, Border Force and all operational staff have the relevant Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available to them.
"In line with Public Health England guidance migrants are not specifically tested for coronavirus, but are continuously monitored for symptoms.
Since January 2019, 111 people smugglers have been convicted and imprisoned and 879 incidents of organised immigration crime have been disrupted.
A spokesman added: "People crossing the Channel to enter the UK have come from a safe country – usually France – and so there is no reason why they need to make this trip in order to claim asylum. Those fleeing persecution should stay in the first safe country they enter.
"To the criminals we say this – your heinous crimes will not be tolerated and we will work tirelessly to bring you to justice.
"These attempted crossings are reckless acts facilitated by criminals that we are determined to stop."
Since 1 April French police have stopped over 200 migrants from risking their lives by seeking to get to the UK using a small boat.
The Home Secretary and her French counterpart, Christophe Castaner, have reaffirmed their commitment to tackling this issue since the outbreak of Coronavirus.
In the last year more than 155 people who entered the UK illegally on small boats have been returned to Europe.
So far in 2020, 11 people smugglers have been put behind bars as a result of Immigration Enforcement investigations.
Between December 2018 and December 2019 there were 15 successful French prosecutions which have seen 30 individuals convicted with sentences ranging from three months to six years.
In February Charles Lynch, 64, was jailed for three years and eight months after pleading guilty to facilitating illegal immigration into the UK. He had been caught by a Border Force cutter and coastal patrol vessel in the Channel attempting to smuggle eight Albanians into the UK.
In December two men were jailed for a combined total of nine years following a trial in France. This followed an investigation by the NCA and French police into an attempt to smuggle migrants to the UK, which resulted in the death of an Iranian woman.
In November Samyar Bani, 35, was convicted following a trial at Canterbury Crown Court of assisting unlawful immigration into the UK. He was jailed for six years. The case was led by officers from Immigration Enforcement.
Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts Chris Philp said: “We are using all the assets, legal and professional skills of BF, the NCA, IE and French law enforcement to dismantle and arrest the criminal networks who trade in people smuggling. This year 11 people smugglers have been put behind bars as a result of Immigration Enforcement investigations.
“Assets on the ground in France have also been enhanced to provide 24/7 cover of the northern beaches ensuring more detections before boats are able to leave the shore, cutting the number of attempted crossings.”
More by this authorEd McConnell
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