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Record number of people arrive in small boats after crossing Channel

A record breaking 430 asylum seekers crossed the Channel to reach the UK yesterday.

Men, women and children arrived on beaches in Kent, including on Romney Marsh and in Kingsdown, with more people arriving elsewhere on a total of 14 crossings.

The asylum seekers landing at Kingsdown
The asylum seekers landing at Kingsdown

In Dungeness, around 50 people were seen landing on a beach after crossing the sea in a single dinghy.

Some raised their hands in celebration as they stood on the beach, while others sat down on the shingle shoreline amid 24C sunshine.

The vessel had been watched by the RNLI as it got closer and closer to the coast before eventually landing on the beach at around 1pm.

Among the arrivals were women and children, some too young to walk, and some people had to be supported as they walked on to the beach.

The figure from yesterday passes the previous daily high of 416 set in September 2020, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

Police at the scene of the landings
Police at the scene of the landings

High numbers of crossings have continued this summer despite Home Secretary Priti Patel’s vow to make the English Channel crossings “unviable”.

In Parliament yesterday, Theresa May sounded warnings over the prospect of the UK sending asylum seekers to Australia-style offshore processing centres.

The former prime minister said she considered the idea when home secretary but rejected the option due to “practical concerns”.

Her remarks came as MPs considered the Nationality and Borders Bill, which includes clauses to allow the UK to be able to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country” and to submit claims at a “designated place” determined by the Secretary of State.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, said: “The Home Office’s anti-refugee Bill is political theatre that doesn’t even pretend to deal with the issue or make our system, safe, fair or efficient.

“We need a mechanism allowing refugees arriving at the UK border in France to be given safe passage, and until we have it, all else is noise and distraction.”

Police caught up wit the migrants at North Road, Kingsdown. Picture: Kathryn Hewitt
Police caught up wit the migrants at North Road, Kingsdown. Picture: Kathryn Hewitt

Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said: “There is an unacceptable rise in dangerous small boat crossings across the channel because of a surge in illegal migration across Europe.

“People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and not risk their lives making these dangerous crossing.

"We are continuing to pursue the criminals behind these illegal crossings.

“Police patrols on French beaches and enhanced intelligence sharing between our security and law enforcement agencies has helped to prevent crossings through a combination of inland and sea patrols.

“The Government continues to undertake substantial steps to tackle the unacceptable problem of illegal migration through the Nationality & Borders Bill which will protect lives and break this cycle of illegal crossings. The Government is also continuing to return those with no legal right to remain in the UK."

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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