Number of migrants crossing English Channel this year passes 5,000

MP calls for offshore processing to deter people smugglers

DOVER, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: Inflatable dinghies used by migrants to cross the channel from France are stored in a compound on June 11, 2021 in Dover, England. More than 500 migrants arrived in the final week of May, according to the UK Home Office, adding that 3,600 people had been stopped from crossing the channel by French authorities. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
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The number of migrants crossing the English Channel has passed 5,000, prompting calls for the UK government to consider offshore processing to deter people smugglers.

Some 110 migrants crossed the Channel on Monday alone, taking this year’s total to 5,034.

Last year, 1,865 migrants landed between January and June, according to Border Force figures.

If the number of migrant crossings continues its current trajectory, this year’s total will be significantly higher than last year’s record of 8,420.

On Tuesday, the Home Office said border officers dealt with a further three boats, while French authorities stopped nearly 50 migrants from making the 21-mile journey.

People smugglers have been taking advantage of the recent warm weather and calm seas.

The Home Office said gangs were “putting profits before people's lives”.

“Almost 5,000 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,” it said.

“Inaction is not an option whilst people are dying. 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.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the proposed legislation will make it illegal to cross the Channel.

Migrants could also be returned to the first "safe country" they land in, although the EU has not yet struck a deal with Britain to allow this to happen.

Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke called for "more robust deterrents", including offshore processing to stop the crossings.

“Small boats crossings have gone on for too long. It's time these crossings came to an end,” she said.

"We should look at more robust deterrents that have been adopted elsewhere – notably in Australia, where a robust stance has saved lives and massively reduced illegal immigration activity.

"Everyone knows that these crossings will only come to an end when migrants know that they have no chance of breaking into Britain in this way, and the criminal gangs stop profiting from them."