MPs demand France take back people caught crossing Channel

Asylum CHIC! Migrant in £175 ‘Anti-Social Social Club’ jacket is led away by official after another boat arrives in Kent – as MPs demand France take back people caught crossing Channel after 770 land in five days

  • 3,859 migrants have Channel so far this year, including 770 in five days between last Friday and this Tuesday
  • 2021 total doesn’t include at least 13 migrants brought ashore to Dover this morning and about 50 yesterday 
  • Dover’s Tory MP Natalie Elphicke urges France to take back asylum seekers caught crossing in small boats
  • People smuggling gangs taking advantage of calm seas to send over hundreds of would-be asylum seekers  

The number of migrants who have crossed the English Channel so far this year was today nearing 4,000 – with 770 completing the journey on calm seas in just five days over the past week.

MPs have urged France to take back asylum seekers caught crossing in small boats as people smuggling gangs take advantage of the warm and settled weather to send hundreds of would-be asylum seekers to Britain.

At least 13 migrants were brought ashore to Dover Marina in Kent this morning, including one wearing an expensive ‘Anti-Social Social Club’ jacket who was pictured being led away by a Border Force official.

The man’s jacket, officially called a ‘2016 Anti Social Social Club ‘No Expectations’ black button flannel’, is by the Los Angeles brand and is available online for between £92 and £175, but cannot be bought new from the retailer. 

So far in 2021, the total number of migrants to reach the UK stands at 3,859 – just over double the running total at the same point last year. That does not include today’s figure or yesterday’s unconfirmed total of about 50.

Last month saw 1,619 migrants make the perilous journey – up 118 per cent on the 741 who arrived in May last year. This figure included 336 migrants reaching Britain aboard 19 boats last Friday – the busiest day of the year so far.

A Border Force worker accompanies a migrant after he arrives at Dover Marina in Kent today following a small boat incident

A group of migrants are brought into Dover Marina in Kent this morning after crossing the Channel in a small boat

May 2021 saw 1,619 migrants make the perilous journey from northern France – up 118 per cent on the 741 in May last year

The Home Office confirmed a further 132 people reached the UK aboard small boats on Tuesday. Eyewitnesses reported around another 50 arrivals at Dover yesterday, but the total has yet to be officially confirmed.

There were also 144 arrivals recorded on Saturday, 17 on Sunday and 71 on Bank Holiday Monday. Conservative MP for Dover Natalie Elphicke said: ‘Urgent action must be taken to stop these crossings.

How many migrants have arrived in recent days? 

The number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats over each day of the past week is:

  • Today: 13 (unconfirmed estimate) 
  • Yesterday: 50 (unconfirmed estimate) 
  • Tuesday: 132
  • Monday: 71 
  • Sunday: 17
  • Saturday: 144 
  • Friday: 336 (busiest day of the year) 

CONFIRMED TOTAL: 770 (Friday-Tuesday)

UNCONFIRMED TOTAL: 833 (adding today & yesterday)

‘That means tackling the criminal gangs at source, doing more to stop the small boats leaving France in the first place, turning them round in the Channel, and swiftly returning people who have entered the country through an illegal route of entry.

‘The Government’s new border system plans are straightforward and sensible but we also need more and firmer action now.’ 

Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to make illegal immigration across the Channel ‘unviable’ – but numbers are continuing to soar.

During the whole of 2020, 8,410 people – including women and children – reached the UK, up from 1,850 in the previous 12 months.

Yesterday, the first two boats carrying about 20 migrants were brought into Dover Marina, in Kent, shortly before 8am on the back of the UK Border Force cutter Hunter.

Another boat containing around 15 was intercepted shortly afterwards floating just a few hundred yards from the White Cliffs of Dover. Border Force cutter Alert brought around 15 more migrants to harbour at around 9am.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Criminal gangs are putting profits before people’s lives through these dangerous and unnecessary crossings.

‘More than 3,500 people have been prevented from making the dangerous crossing so far this year and we are cracking down on the despicable criminal gangs behind people smuggling. Inaction is not an option whilst people are dying.

A migrant is escorted onto Dover Marina by a Border Force official this morning following a small boat incident in the Channel

Migrants are seen on board a boat as they are taken into Dover Marina in Kent today after crossing the English Channel

A migrant is led ashore at Dover Marina in Kent this morning while accompanied by a Border Force official

‘The Government is bringing legislation forward through our New Plan for Immigration which will break the business model of these heinous people smuggling networks and save lives.’ 

Migrants crossing the Channel in small boats 

  • January 2020 – 87
  • February 2020 – 192
  • March 2020 – 187
  • April 2020 – 530
  • May 2020 – 741
  • June 2020 – 702
  • July 2020 – 1118
  • August 2020 – 1,468
  • September 2020 – 1,954
  • October 2020 – 463
  • November 2020 – 757
  • December 2020 – 211
  • January 2021 – 223
  • February 2021 – 308
  • March 2021 – 831
  • April 2021 – 746
  • May 2021 – 1,619

Even more migrants could have crossed over the past few days if they had not been stopped by authorities in France. Last Friday, the French prevented seven crossings involving 165 migrants.

The next day they stopped a further nine crossings concerning another 144, while on bank holiday Monday the French prevented two crossings involving 37 people.

Overnight on Monday and Tuesday, French authorities discovered people near their coast with marine equipment such as boats and engines. They prevented a further six crossing attempts where 20 people were concerned.

On Tuesday, the French intercepted one further crossing, preventing 16 people from reaching Britain.

In 2019. Miss Patel pledged that migrant Channel crossings would be an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by last spring. But last year’s total was more than four times the number seen in the previous 12 months.

Overall numbers of asylum applications in Britain were down by 24 per cent year-on-year to just under 27,000 in the 12 months to the end of March.

The growth in the number of Channel crossings reflects how migrants are increasingly using the route, compared with other methods such as hiding in lorries. 

It comes as six asylum seekers who brought a legal challenge against ‘appalling’ conditions at Napier Barracks are today due to find out if their High Court bid has been successful.

The former army barracks in Kent have been used to house hundreds of asylum seekers since last September, despite the Home Office being warned by Public Health England that it was unsuitable.

The six men, all said to be ‘survivors of torture and/or human trafficking’, argued the Home Office is unlawfully accommodating people at the barracks and conditions at the camp pose ‘real and immediate risks to life and of ill-treatment’.

Migrants are pictured this morning as they are brought into Dover following a small boat incident in the Channel

A migrant is brought to shore at Dover in Kent today after a small boat incident in the Channel earlier this morning

A migrant wears a blanket over his head as he is brought into Dover Marina in Kent this morning after crossing the Channel

Following a two-day hearing in April, Mr Justice Linden will hand down his judgment this morning.

During the hearing, the men’s lawyers said that accommodating asylum seekers at the barracks was a breach of their human rights and could amount to false imprisonment.

They also argued the Home Office failed to put in place a process to prevent ‘particularly vulnerable asylum seekers’ from being housed at the barracks.

Tom Hickman QC – representing four of the six men – described the camp as ‘squalid, ill-equipped, lacking in personal privacy and, most fundamentally of all, unsafe’, with no mental health support and only one nurse on site.

He also said moving the men to the former Ministry of Defence camp ‘exposed them to an exceptionally high risk’ of contracting Covid-19.

A migrant wears a face mask as he is accompanied to shore at Dover Marina in Kent by a Border Force official this morning

This map shows the accommodation providers contracted by the Home Office to provide housing to asylum seekers

Almost 200 people tested positive for coronavirus during an outbreak at the barracks earlier this year, senior Home Office officials told MPs in February.

The six men’s lawyers told the court at a previous hearing that the Home Office ‘knew or ought to have known of the impossibility of effective means of controlling or containing infection at the barracks’.

The Home Office defended the claim, saying it took ‘reasonable steps to ensure that persons who are specifically vulnerable to severe illness or death from Covid-19 are not placed in a congregate setting’.

Lisa Giovannetti QC, for the department, said it ‘accepts that Napier is unsuitable for long-term accommodation, but it is not intended as such’.

She told the court the Home Office decided to use Napier Barracks ‘to provide short-term contingency accommodation to single, healthy adult males’ in response to ‘an urgent need to source a significant number of additional accommodation spaces’.

TUESDAY – Some 132 people were brought in to Dover Marina aboard a Border Force cutter around noon on Tuesday

YESTERDAY – More migrants were brought to shore at Dover Marina in Kent yesterday following further Channel crossings

Ms Giovannetti added the Home Office ‘has taken reasonable steps to ensure that persons who are specifically vulnerable to severe illness or death from Covid-19 are not placed in a congregate setting’.

During the hearing, a report from the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) into conditions was released following requests by the PA news agency.

The report into the barracks and Penally Camp in Wales found ‘fundamental failures’ by the Home Office, leading to ‘dangerous shortcomings in the nature of the accommodation and poor experiences for the residents’.

After the court hearings, it emerged that hundreds of people would be moved into the barracks, with plans to increase numbers to more than 300 residents.

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