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Record number of migrants try to cross Channel in one day

More than 300 migrants have been stopped attempting to cross the English Channel by boat this weekend, it has been revealed.

The Home Office confirmed the figures today, with 145 people being picked up by Border Force officials during eight incidents yesterday, believed to be a record number for a single day.

Border Force officials dealt with a migrant incident at Dungeness today. Picture: Susan Pilcher
Border Force officials dealt with a migrant incident at Dungeness today. Picture: Susan Pilcher

A further 82 people have been intercepted in small boats on the British side of the Channel today, with a majority of the cases around Dover.

French authorities have prevented a total of 77 migrants from crossing over the two days, bringing the total number of people to 304.

According to the Home Office, the Border Force and partner agencies dealt with the following cases on Saturday, May 9:

  • Around 4am, a Border Force vessel supported in the interception of a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB), which was carrying a group of two females and 10 males who presented themselves as Yemen and Iraqi nationals.
  • Around 4.30am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB, which was carrying a group of 12 males who presented themselves as Yemen and Iraqi nationals.
  • Around 4.30am, a Border Force vessel supported the interception of a RHIB, which was carrying a group of 11 males and five females who presented themselves as Iranian, Afghan and Syrian nationals.
  • Around 5.30am, a Border Force vessel supported in the interception of a RHIB, which was carrying a group of 16 males who presented themselves as Iran and Yemen nationals.
  • Around 6am, a Border Force vessel supported in the interception of a RHIB, which was carrying a group of 14 males who presented themselves as Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian nationals.
  • Around 1pm, immigration officials encountered 12 males at Dungeness. They presented themselves as Iraqi and Indian nationals.
  • French authorities dealt with three incidents, preventing a total of 44 migrants crossing.
Two of the boats intercepted on Friday morning by Border Force. More crossings have been stopped today. Picture: Chris Johnson
Two of the boats intercepted on Friday morning by Border Force. More crossings have been stopped today. Picture: Chris Johnson

Incidents on Friday, May 8, were as follows:

  • Around 2am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 24 females and 27 males who presented themselves as Iranian and Iraqi nationals.
  • Around 4am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 20 males who presented themselves as Kuwaiti, Iraqi and Iranian nationals.
  • Around 5am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of three females and 11 males who presented themselves as Iranian and Iraqi nationals.
  • Around 6am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 5 males and four females who presented themselves as Iraqi nationals.
  • Around 7am, Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 12 males and two females who presented themselves as Iraqi and Iranian nationals.
  • Around 8am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 14 males and two females who presented themselves as Iraqi and Iranian nationals.
  • Around 8am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 11 males who presented themselves as Iranian and Afghan nationals.
  • Around 9am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a RHIB which was carrying a group of 10 males who presented themselves as Iranian and Iraqi nationals.
  • French authorities dealt with two incidents, preventing a total of 33 migrants from crossing.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Individuals were brought to Dover and, in line with established processes, were assessed to establish whether there are any medical requirements.

A Border Force cutter has intercepted several migrant crossing over the past two days. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher
A Border Force cutter has intercepted several migrant crossing over the past two days. Stock picture: Susan Pilcher

"They have now been 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. The migrants have left a safe country – generally France – and where appropriate we will be seeking to return them."

Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, Chris Philp said: “We are all working night and day to dismantle and arrest the criminal gangs who trade in people smuggling. This week, the Home Secretary spoke to her French Counterpart Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner who reaffirmed the commitment to carry out more returns at sea to stop these illegal crossings.

“This illegal and criminal activity is already subject to heavy law enforcement activity by Border Force, the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and French law enforcement and we will continue to take whatever action is necessary to stop this criminal trade, including changes to the law.

“Already over 1,100 migrants were arrested in France in the first quarter of this year and in 2019 Immigration Enforcement made 418 arrests, leading to 203 convictions for a total of 437 years.

“But the recent increase in crossings is totally unacceptable and it is sickening that smugglers are willing to put people’s lives at risk, including children. This is why we are stepping up action to stop the 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.

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