English Channel crossings hit highest this year with 775 in a day

Lifeboats were called as 14 small boats took migrants from France to Britain

A lifeboat brings a group of migrants to the Port of Dover in south-east England. Getty Images
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Migrant crossings in the English Channel hit a new daily peak for 2023, with 775 people counted on Thursday.

The crossings were made in 14 small boats and beat the year's previous high of 686, on July 7.

Lifeboat crews said they were called into action on Thursday after reports of "casualties in the water", who were brought to safety. Coast guards said a helicopter was also dispatched.

The events on Thursday are believed to have brought the total number of migrants crossing the Channel to 100,000 since 2018.

There were 299 people detected that year and numbers mushroomed to 45,755 people in 2022.

The record daily figure is the 1,295 migrants who crossed in a single day, on 27 boats, in August last year.

UK Home Office figures say 15,826 people have crossed illegally this year even as ministers vow to "stop the boats".

Contentious asylum reforms last month became law, intended to prevent illegal migrants from staying in Britain.

100,000 migrants cross the Channel in five years - in pictures

The Illegal Migration Act brings in powers to speed up deportations and stop asylum claims. Critics say it is cruel and that detaining thousands of people will be expensive.

Government minister John Glen on Friday said an arrangement with France to fund police patrols had cut migrant numbers by an estimated 33,000.

But he played down the prospect of more drastic measures, such as leaving the European Convention on Human Rights, saying "plan A" should be given a chance to work.

"I believe in the plan that we’ve got in place. It hasn’t finished the legal process yet," Mr Glen, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told LBC radio.

"I believe in plan A and we will see that come to fruition in the autumn."

Ministers are also fighting legal battles in the courts over their plans to deport migrants to Rwanda and decisions to house migrants on former military sites.

Some asylum seekers were this week moved on to the Bibby Stockholm barge off the Dorset coast after the plans were beset by delays.

Updated: August 11, 2023, 12:10 PM