Record number of migrants crossed English Channel in 2022

In total, 45,756 made the treacherous journey, an increase of 60 per cent from 2021

People are brought to Dungeness in Kent after being rescued following a small boat incident in the Channel in December. PA
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A record number of migrants crossed the English Channel in 2022, according to official figures.

A total of 45,756 made the treacherous journey, with the last crossing of the year on Christmas Day, when 90 people arrived on two boats from France.

No further journeys were made on the remaining six days of the year due to poor weather.

The 2022 total is 60 per cent up on the 28,526 recorded for the whole of 2021.

It is however lower than the 60,000 that Home Office officials previously predicted would make the journey during the year.

Over the last 12 months — a tumultuous period in Conservative party leadership with three different prime ministers and three home secretaries — politicians have desperately tried to get a grip on the numbers.

Current Home Secretary Suella Braverman spoke of her “dream” of seeing the government's plan to send migrants to Rwanda succeed after she was appointed, a policy which High Court judges ruled is lawful but has so far been stalled by legal action.

Since the deal was signed in April by her predecessor Priti Patel, 40,460 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has promised to bring in legislation in 2023 to make it “unambiguously clear that if you enter the UK illegally, you should not be able to remain here”.

Among a series of measures to curb Channel crossings and tackle the backlog of asylum claims, Mr Sunak vowed to stop housing asylum seekers in hotels, with the government instead hunting for accommodation in empty holiday parks, former student halls and surplus military sites.

Ms Braverman confirmed plans to house migrants on disused cruise ships are also being considered as she revealed £3.5 billion ($4.23 billion) would be spent on the asylum system in 2022/23.

Some £2.3 billion of the total would go towards paying for hotels, she told MPs.

Earlier this week, former prime minister Theresa May warned that efforts to reform modern slavery laws risk creating other loopholes which could be exploited after Ms Braverman claimed they are being “abused by people gaming the system” to stay in the UK, when they would otherwise face deportation.

UK coastguard responds to migrant emergency in English Channel — in pictures

Meanwhile, ministers are also looking to curb the numbers of people coming into the country legally, with plans which could reportedly target foreign students, make it harder to bring spouses to the UK, and increase the minimum salaries for companies employing skilled workers.

The number of migrants crossing the Channel has steadily increased since 299 were recorded in 2018. There were 1,843 crossings recorded in 2019 and 8,466 in 2020, according to the Home Office.

August last year was the highest month on record for crossings as 8,631 people arrived in the UK after making the journey. August 22 also saw a record 1,295 migrants crossing in a single day on 27 boats.

But the number of arrivals per month began to fall towards the end of the year, which could reflect the weather's impact on the number of crossings being attempted.

In December 1,745 made the journey — slightly fewer than the 1,770 arrivals recorded in the last month of 2021.

Updated: January 01, 2023, 3:14 PM