Published: 16:09, 09 November 2020
| Updated: 09:03, 10 November 2020
Nearly 5,000 small boats carrying asylum seekers have been prevented from reaching the UK this year, it has been revealed.
French authorities successfully stopped the crossings in the English Channel as part of their work to reduce the number of people attempting to make the dangerous journey.
It comes after a family of four, including two children, died in the Channel last month after the boat they were travelling in capsized.
This year, a record number of people have made the perilous journey across one of the world's busiest shipping channels, many landing in Folkestone and Romney Marsh and some being brought to safety at Dover.
Today, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins, questioned the Home Office about what progress is being made to stop this happening.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Collins said the problem had been getting worse throughout this year and was resulting in tragic loss of life, concerns for people living on the coast and profit for people-trafficking gangs.
He said: "What progress is being made either with stopping more of these crossings leaving France in the first place, or stopping boats at sea and returning them to France?
"If the migrants can see they can't get into the country in this way, I think fewer will try."
Chris Philp, Home Office minister, said the trade was being facilitated by "dangerous and ruthless criminals".
He added: "In terms of activities with the French, we are working with them to prevent embarkation, we're funding gendarmes who patrol beaches and in fact French authorities successfully stopped nearly 5,000 crossings this year so far.
"In relation to action at sea, that is something which we are in the process of actively investigating because if it is obvious that no one can make it across then they will stop attempting these dangerous crossings in the first place."
Mr Philp also said the Home Office is working to return people who have made it across the sea and said this week there had been three flights which have "contained returns of cross channel migrants under Dublin regulations".
Mr Philp added: "By combination of law enforcement on French beaches, potential future action at sea and returns, we can remove reason to try these crossings in the first place."