Published: 13:51, 23 July 2020
| Updated: 14:29, 23 July 2020
The MP for Dover is calling for abandoned migrant dinghies to be donated to seafaring good causes after hundreds were pictured being stored at a warehouse.
Natalie Elphicke has written to the Home Office asking for clarification on what happens to the boats after they have been recovered from the Channel.
Following storage at a Palmerstone Road warehouse in Whitfield, she had believed that many, if not all, were destroyed.
The immigration department has since admitted to KentOnline that while some are destroyed such as those which are unseaworthy, others are sold at auction - with the proceeds returned to the public purse.
Once criminal proceedings are concluded, some of the seized vessels are also returned their rightful owner in instances where they have been stolen for use in the crossing.
But Mrs Elphicke is still awaiting a response to her letter and is keen to see if the vessels could be used locally by groups such as Walmer RNLI and the Sea Scouts.
She said: "Constituents have suggested to me that the boats should be handed over to the RNLI or another charity, when they are no longer needed as evidence, and then refurbished and auctioned for local charity fundraising or given to the Sea Scouts or Scouts.
"I have recently written to the Home Office regarding disposal of boats and asked them to consider whether the boats and engines could be safely retained and restored rather than destroyed."
It was revealed this week that the inflatable dinghies used by migrants to cross the Channel are being stored on land off Palmerstone Road in Whitfield.
The Home Office would not divulge exactly how many are being stored at the facility, which is located around five miles from the quayside in Dover.
But in pictures, they are piled up to three high and in multiple rows.
It comes after 2,800 migrants have reached the UK so far this year, prompting a warning from Home Secretary Priti Patel that the illegal activity 'cannot go on'.
Last week she visited France and is said to have struck a deal with the country to crack down on migrants arriving in the UK.
Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, Chris Philp said: “These crossings are illegally facilitated and no one should be attempting them in the first place.
“The French have stopped thousands of migrants this year and those who reach the UK via this route are being returned.
"But we are pressing the French government for stronger enforcement measures, including interceptions at sea and direct returns of boats.
“We are also taking action to prevent boats from launching, including setting up a joint intelligence cell, to go after the criminals behind these crossings.
"This year, 22 people smugglers have been jailed and earlier this week our investigations resulted in 10 more arrests.”