Record 336 migrants crossed English Channel in August

Telegraph Reporters
Migrants brought ashore by Border Force on Saturday - STEVE FINN PHOTOGRAPHY

A record 336 migrants were detected crossing the English Channel last month-  more than in the whole of 2018. 

On Saturday boats containing 66 men, women and children were intercepted along the Kent coast - taking the tally to the highest monthly figure ever recorded according to the BBC.

In comparison 297 people were caught attempting to enter Britain through the Channel in 2018. 

One of the four vessels intercepted on Saturday was carrying 27 adults and eight children, the Home Office said.

UK Border Force officials said they were first alerted to a small boat travelling across the Channel at about 5.35am on Saturday.

They deployed HMC Seeker, the Border Agency’s lead ship, along with a coastal patrol. It contained 35 migrants - 27 adults and eight children - who told officials they were Iranian, Iraqi, Afghan, Syrian and Kuwaiti nationals. The group was comprised of 29 males and six females.

Migrants brought ashore by Border Force on Saturday Credit: Steve Finn/Steve Finn

French authorities made Border Force aware of a second vessel heading towards Kent around the same time which contained 16 people - six men, five women and five children. Fifteen identified as Iranian while the other claimed to be Lebanese.

One of the women on board was taken to hospital for treatment but has since been discharged. 

Four hours later, at around 9.55am, Border Force was alerted to a rigid-inflatable boat in the middle of the Channel containing seven people. The five men, woman and child claimed to be Iranian.

All three vessels were taken to Dover.

Another boat reached Kingsdown in Kent where eight men were passed on to immigration officers after being held by police.  

Coastguard and rescue teams were sent from Folkestone and Deal to help with the operations. Their spokeswoman said the crews were assisting to rescue those in trouble and bringing them to safety where they would be “handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities”

Migrants brought ashore by Border Force on Saturday Credit: Steve Finn

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Crossing the Channel in a small boat is a huge risk”.

The August record comes after a meeting between Home Secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart, Christophe Castaner in Paris on Thursday. The meeting was arranged in response to the soaring rise in crossings. 

They agreed to develop an "enhanced action plan" to stop boats containing migrants leaving the French coast.

The Home Office spokesman added: "This week the Home Secretary and her French counterpart agreed to intensify joint action to tackle small boat crossings in the Channel.

"This includes drawing up an enhanced action plan to deploy more resources along the French coast to intercept and stop crossings."

Police said on Thursday the body of a man who fell from a boat off the coast of Ramsgate on August 9th had been found.

The body of an Iraqi migrant, who is believed to have drowned while trying to swim to Britain, was found at a wind farm off the coast of Belgium on August 23.

Since January the Home Office said it has returned to Europe more than 65 people who arrived illegally in small boats.