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Suspected migrants intercepted in Coast Drive, Greatstone

Border Force has intercepted 12 suspected migrants, including a 10-year-old boy, on the coast this morning.

The group, also consisting of two women, presented themselves as Iranian nationals after being detained in Coast Drive in Greatstone.

It comes after six Iranian men were also found on a beach near Dover on Sunday.

Officers wearing hi-vis National Crime Agency jackets examine a boat on the shore at Greatstone. Picture: Susan Pilcher
Officers wearing hi-vis National Crime Agency jackets examine a boat on the shore at Greatstone. Picture: Susan Pilcher

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Border Force was contacted by Kent Police at around 8.25am, today, Monday 31 December.Border Force officers were deployed to assist with a group of 12 migrants at Greatstone, Kent.

“The group consisted of nine men, two women and 10-year-old child. They have presented themselves as Iranian nationals.

“They all received a medical assessment and have now been transferred to immigration officials for interview.”

Eye-witness Susan Pilcher, 47, said the dinghy's small size illustrated how "desperate" the migrants were.

She said: "Border Force were emptying the boat, there were clothes and petrol cans inside, the boat was tiny, like something you would take out snorkelling.

Officers wearing hi-vis National Crime Agency jackets examine a boat on the shore at Greatstone. Picture: Susan Pilcher
Officers wearing hi-vis National Crime Agency jackets examine a boat on the shore at Greatstone. Picture: Susan Pilcher

"It's frightening knowing people will risk going through that shipping lane on something so basic.

Ms Pilcher, a part-time photographer from Littlestone, added: "When you see the size of the boat in real life and imagine how many people were inside, it makes you realise how desperate they must be."

It came as Home Secretary Sajid Javid admitted many factors behind the increase in migrants attempting to reach the UK by boat are "outside of our control".

Mr Javid will discuss the problems with Border Force, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and other officials.

He recently declared the ongoing crisis a "major incident” since more than 220 people attempted to cross the English Channel in small boats since November.

A boat on the shore at Greatstone. Picture: Susan Pilcher
A boat on the shore at Greatstone. Picture: Susan Pilcher
A boat on the shore at Greatstone. Picture: Susan Pilcher
A boat on the shore at Greatstone. Picture: Susan Pilcher

Speaking today, a police spokesman said Border Force officials were “dealing” with the Greatstone incident, which unfolded at about 8am this morning.

They said: “Kent Police was made aware at 8.16am of a report of a group of suspected migrants seen in Coast Drive, Greatstone.

“Officers attended to assist Border Force who are dealing with the incident.”

Meanwhile Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, renewed calls for tougher sea security in a series of Tweets this afternoon.


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