< Back to 68k.news UK front page

Migrant crossings reach record level 

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

Nearly four times as many migrants crossed the Channel last week than during the same seven days last year.

A total of 1,959 people crossed the Channel from France in the week to September 10 - the highest total for any seven-day period since migrants starting using small boats for the crossing. That compares with just over 500 for the same seven-day period last year. 

With at least 50 more crossings on Monday, which included young children, it means the total for September has already exceeded 2,000, more than the entire month of September in 2020.

It follows more than 3,000 in each of the months of July and August, bringing the total for the year to nearly 14,500, compared with 8,400 for the whole of 2020.

The figures follow last week's war of words between English and French ministers after it emerged Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, had sanctioned tactics to push back migrants' boats to stop them making the journey and force the French border force vessels to return them to France.

On Monday, Sky News broadcast footage of Border Force officers on three jet skis apparently training for the tactics, which are to be deployed once exercises to hone the strategy are completed at the end of this month.

The film showed six officers on the high-powered jet skis pursuing a small dinghy carrying people, then crowding around it to prevent it progressing.

The complicated manoeuvre requires two jet skis to circle the boat, with one pushing it back from the bow and the other nudging the stern at its motor.

Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, warned last week that such tactics would be a breach of trust between the UK and France, as well as being dangerous and illegal under maritime laws.

He also accused Ms Patel of financial blackmail after she threatened to withhold £54 million of cash promised to step up patrols unless there was an improvement in the number of migrants intercepted by French authorities.

Asked about the exercises on Monday, a Home Office spokesman said it was continuing to "evaluate and test a range of safe and legal options for stopping small boats".

He said it would "continue to explore all options available" to reduce the number of crossings.

"All operational procedures used at sea comply, and are delivered in accordance with, domestic and international law," he added.

< Back to 68k.news UK front page