Channel crossings: Average number of migrants per boat hits record

UK Home Office figures show risk factor rising as more people attempt dangerous crossing on fewer number of small boats

Migrants sit on an inflatable boat before attempting to illegally cross the English Channel to reach Britain. AFP
Powered by automated translation

The average number of migrants crossing the Channel per boat last month was the highest on record, figures show.

About 3,299 people made the journey to the UK in July on 63 boats – a monthly average of about 52 migrants per vessel.

This is the highest monthly average since records began in 2018, according to UK government data on small boat crossings.

Home Office records also show that the figure is 46 migrants per boat for this year overall, also a record.

The third highest monthly average (47) was reached in October last year when 147 boats carried 6,900 people in a month.

Provisional Home Office figures show 14,732 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year. But no arrivals have been recorded in nearly a week amid poor weather at sea.

The 2023 total to date is 10 per cent lower than the 16,434 recorded from January to July last year.

The figures come as plans to move asylum seekers on to a giant barge on the Dorset coast have been beset by delays.

Facing questions on Sky News, Transport Minister Richard Holden said he “can’t put a time frame” on when migrants will board the Bibby Stockholm.

The Home Office was due to send the first group of people to the accommodation on Tuesday, but there were reportedly serious fire safety concerns about the facility.

Reports later showed that the arrival date had been pushed back to Wednesday to give more time for final inspections.

But government sources later suggested that it may not be until next week to avoid new services beginning close to the weekend as working practices for port workers have to be signed off for the Health and Safety Executive.

Downing Street said final preparations are under way this week.

Meanwhile, media reports cited sources warning Border Force is braced for a surge in Channel crossings in August amid fears that beach patrols could be scaled back while French police officers take time off work.

But the French government has assured the Home Office that patrols funded by the UK government under a multimillion-pound deal earlier this year will not be affected, The Times said.

Updated: August 02, 2023, 4:07 PM