Baby and young boy among 221 people to cross Channel in small boats

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A total of 221 people in five small boats crossed the Channel to the UK on Friday, according to the Ministry of Defence.

A baby dressed in pyjamas and wearing a life vest was among those to have made the crossing, along with several groups of men and another young boy wrapped in a blanket.

It comes as the Home Office said it had appointed an independent panel to oversee the plan to send migrants to Rwanda.

People rescued from small boats
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought to Dover after being rescued from small boats in the Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Friday’s arrivals bring the number of people to have made the crossing so far in 2022 to 25,264.

August was the highest monthly total on record for crossings, after 8,644 people made the journey on 189 boats in the 31-day period. Crossings took place on 21 of those days, according to PA news agency analysis of Government figures.

That is the highest monthly total since current records began in 2018. Previously it was 6,971, recorded in November 2021.

August 22 saw the highest daily total on record, with 1,295 people crossing in 27 boats.

People brought to shore
A total of 221 people arrived on Friday (Gareth Fuller/PA)

It is more than four months since Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled the Rwanda policy in a bid to deter people from crossing the Channel.

On April 14, Ms Patel signed what she described as a “world-first” agreement with Rwanda, but the first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was grounded amid legal challenges.

Several asylum seekers, the Public and Commercial Services union and charities Care4Calais, Detention Action and Asylum Aid are challenging the legality of the Home Office policy, with the next court hearings due to take place from Monday.

Campaigners have also called on the Government to abandon the plan and free those awaiting removal from detention.