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Romney Marsh's South East Coastal Defence, covering Deal and Dover to Dungeness, in first leafletting in Folkestone

Immigration is good for Britain but not the illegal kind.

That's the firm view of a new group of self-declared patriots who are monitoring the coast from Deal to Dungeness for migrant landings on dinghies.

Romney Marsh-based South East Coastal Defence says when its members find migrants landing they will offer them food, water and blankets to encourage them to stay and wait for the authorities to pick them up.

Members of South East Coastal Defence leafletting in Folkestone
Members of South East Coastal Defence leafletting in Folkestone

Last Saturday the group carried out its first leafletting at the Folkestone town centre precinct.

Founder Elaine Renton, from Romney Marsh, told Kent Online: "The majority of those coming across are completely undocumented. They are not going through any checks, they don't have passports or ID."

Ms Renton dismissed suggestions that this group may be racist as "complete nonsense."

She said: "None of us are racist. The only immigration we're against is illegal immigration.

"If people want to come into Britain by the legal channels and apply for asylum, rather than sneak in under the cover of darkness, it's not a problem.

"Immigration is good for Britain but not illegal immigration.

Elaine Renton: "Only against illegal immigration"
Elaine Renton: "Only against illegal immigration"

"It's these people coming in that don't have documents that we're concerned about because nobody knows where they are coming from.

"A lot of people coming in recently have said that they are from Iran and there is absolutely no proof of that.

"If somebody wants to claim asylum they should be claiming at the first safe country. There are lots of safe countries between their own country and Britain."

The group has been set up following months of attempts by migrants to land in Britain by small craft, mostly dinghies

Kent Online has counted a net figure of exactly 300 migrant landings on UK soil by small craft, between Dungeness and Deal, from November 8 last year to Monday this week.

This is 35 cases where migrants have landed unaided or been rescued by British authorities and brought ashore.

The highest single number of people in one vessel was 34 on Monday.

There is a gross figure of 379 people in 44 incidents during that time, which also includes migrants found early at sea by French authorities and brought back to France.

Members of SECD believe that they are not making the full crossing by small craft but are placed into them nearer the Kent coast from larger vessels.

The group is at present only land-based but hopes to eventually use a vessel to come across such a situation and film it.

Steve Murphy:"The immigration system is being abused."
Steve Murphy:"The immigration system is being abused."

SECD member Steve Murphy, of Folkestone, said: "I think the immigration system is being abused."

Mr Murphy said that on the evening of February 4 he had seen a group of migrants land at Littlestone but because of difficulty disembarking on treacherous mudflats they sailed on towards Dungeness.

He had contacted police.

He said; "Their boats are clearly being brought in by bigger boats because that night was really rough and there was no way a dinghy could have got across the Channel on its own. I think they are being brought in dropped in, for instance at the sea wall at Littlestone, from bigger boats into the dinghies and sent ashore."

SECD has about 40 members, but some from as far as the Midlands, East Anglia and London.

Glen Saffer: "I'm a true patriot."
Glen Saffer: "I'm a true patriot."

Glen Saffer came to the Folkestone leafletting from Norwich.

He said: "I'm a true patriot and I feel something needs to be done along the Kent shores.

"They want to claim asylum. . Are they going to bring their families over next?

"When they come here, our government has to support them.

"What are they putting back into our country? Where is it going to stop?"

Resisting illegal immigration: Elaine Renton hands out leaflets
Resisting illegal immigration: Elaine Renton hands out leaflets

Eight members of SECD leafletted shoppers in the Sandgate Road precinct.

One part of the literature said: "You cannot keep allowing migrants just to walk onto our shores, to use the services that are already overstretched and at breaking point."

They feel that more, for instance, needs to be done for homeless veterans.

The leaflet put out on Saturday also said: "Britain has experienced a mass influx from migrants who are not fleeing war, only wanting to enter Britain for the benefits of the taxpayers' contributions towards free handouts, and will never contribute to the system themselves."

Ms Renton said this only referred to illegal migrants.

A pro-migrant group, after learning about the formation of SECD, had put out leaflets in the precinct earlier that afternoon.

The literature, from Kent Anti-Racism network, said of the migrants: "Most of these people are Kurdish. The Kurds are a repressed minority in countries such as Iran and Iraq.

"That means they have a well-founded fear of persecution."

KARN adds that in 2017 there were 26,350 applications for asylum made in the UK compared to 198,255 in Germany, 126,550 in Italy and 91,070 in France.

Ben Bano: "Rise in the number of homeless migrants."
Ben Bano: "Rise in the number of homeless migrants."

Ben Bano, a Deal town councillor is also co-director of the Kent pro-migrant group Seeking Sanctuary.

He said: "People who risk their lives coming to the UK are certainly not after economic benefits. They are fleeing oppression and persecution.

"Those applying for asylum are granted a support allowance of just £35 a week until their claim is decided. Most of those involved are unable to cope with this minimal amount.

"While the Home Office is deciding their application they have accommodation provided in the north of England where housing is cheaper.

"When their claim is decided they don't have a right to that accommodation and there has been a rise in the number of homeless migrants."

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