Up to 80 Channel migrants landed in Britain today as people-smugglers take advantage of clear skies and calm waters.
UK officials escorted two small boats of men, women and children into Dover Harbour, Kent at around 7.30am, following a two-week break in crossings due to strong winds and bad weather.
The last crossing, on March 28, saw 386 people make the perilous journey across the 21-mile Dover Strait in 12 boats.
According to the latest official Home Office figures, at least 4,550 people have crossed the Channel so far this year.
Border Force union bosses have warned that this year could see at least 60,000 people arrive in the UK by small boats.
While today saw the first successful crossing in some time, a group of migrants reportedly attempted to row the length of the Channel on Sunday but were rescued by the French Navy after getting into difficulty, and returned to the port of Calais.
Young children amongst a group of people thought to be migrants as they are brought in to Dover, Kent, by Border Force officers, March 28, 2022
According to the latest official Home Office figures, at least 4,550 people have crossed the Channel so far this year. Border Force union bosses have warned that this year could see at least 60,000 people arrive in the UK by small boats
A group of people thought to be migrants are helped by Coastguard officers after being brought in to Dover, Kent, March 4, 2022
A young child amongst a group of people thought to be migrants after being brought in to Dungeness, Kent, onboard the RNLI Lifeboat, March 24, 2022
According to the Maritime Prefect, a patrol from the Gendarmerie Operations and Intelligence Centre reported the departure of a boat from Cran Poulet beach, northern France, on Sunday.
The French regional operation surveillance and rescue centre CROSS in Griz Nez engaged the public service patrol boat (PSP) Cormoran to intercept the migrants.
The crew then picked up 11 stranded people from the boat before dropping them off at the port of Calais where they were taken care of by the border police.
A spokesperson for the Maritime Prefect of the Channel said: ‘They are all safe and sound thanks to the efficiency and responsiveness of the actors acting daily for the action of the State at sea and the safeguard of human life: the CROSS Gris-Nez, the maritime prefecture and the operations center maritime forces, the French Navy, the maritime gendarmerie, sea users, as well as State units patrolling the sea daily.
‘The maritime prefect of the Channel and the North Sea warns anyone who plans to cross the Channel about the risks involved.
‘This maritime sector is one of the busiest areas in the world, the weather conditions are often difficult there (120 days of wind greater than or equal to force 7 on an annual average for example), it is therefore a particularly dangerous sector, especially during winter where the water temperature drops.’
A migrant is brought into the Port of Dover onboard by a Border Force agent, after being rescued while crossing the Channel, March 15, 2022
A group of people thought to be migrants are are guided up the beach after being brought in to Dungeness, Kent, March 24, 2022
Border Force officials helping migrants at the port of Dover, March 28, 2022
More than 3,000 migrants crossed the Channel by small boat last month – the highest monthly figure since November 2021, when 6,869 people made the treacherous journey.
According to official Home Office figures, 3,075 people arrived on British soil in March – more than the total number of people who made the journey in January, February, March and April combined last year, and over triple the 831 who arrived in the entirety of March in 2021.
This level of small boat crossings was not seen on a monthly basis until the height of summer in 2021.
A total of 28,526 migrants crossed the Dover Strait last year – significantly higher than the 8,410 who arrived in 2020 – but the number of crossings is expected to increase over the coming weeks as Spring brings warmer weather and calmer conditions at sea.
Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, Tom Pursglove MP, said: ‘The rise in dangerous Channel crossings is unacceptable.
‘Not only are they an overt abuse of our immigration laws but they also impact on the UK taxpayer, risk lives and our ability to help refugees come to the UK via safe and legal routes. Rightly, the British public has had enough.
‘Through our Nationality and Borders Bill, we’re cracking down on people smugglers and fixing the broken system by making it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally and introducing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those who facilitate illegal entry into our country.’