UK tops 15,000 migrants in a year for first time

At least 655 migrants have arrived in the UK since Monday

Police officers and members of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution carry a person from a boat ashore in Kent. PA
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More migrants landed on the English south coast on Friday, taking the total to more than 15,000 for the year.

In the three days to Friday, more than 400 landed as Home Secretary Priti Patel visited the Border Force base to watch the operations on Thursday.

The UK is sending out a tough message to migrants, warning them against trying to make the illegal voyage across the English Channel but, for many, it’s the dream destination.

“This unacceptable rise in dangerous crossings is being driven by criminal gangs and a surge in illegal migration across Europe,” said Dan O'Mahoney, the UK’s clandestine Channel threat commander.

“The Channel is one of the most dangerous and busiest shipping lanes in the world. Many migrants come from some of the poorest and most chaotic parts of the world, and many ask to claim asylum once they are picked up by the UK authorities.”

More than 15,100 people have successfully reached the UK in small boats — more than for the whole of 2020, when there was a reduction in attempts due to the pandemic.

On Friday, a man carried a young child on his shoulders, wrapped in a blanket and wearing a woollen hat. They were among a group of people seen arriving in Dover on Friday amid bright and breezy conditions at sea.

At least 655 migrants have arrived in the UK since Monday after making the journey across busy shipping lanes from France. Many more have been stopped in France.

The crossings continued as Ms Patel met Border Force officers in Kent on Thursday.

Migrants have long used northern France as a launching point to reach Britain, either by stowing away in lorries or on ferries, or — increasingly since the Covid pandemic disrupted international travel — in dinghies and other small boats organised by smugglers. The numbers so far are substantially lower than the week before.

A record was set for the year when 1,959 people made the crossing in the week to September 10 — the highest total for any seven-day period in 2021, data compiled and analysed by the Press Association news agency showed.

Last year, about 8,500 people made the journey and several died in the attempt.

Updated: September 17, 2021, 10:01 PM