Migrants picked up off coast of Dover in record numbers for the year, as authorities blame hot weather

Jamie Johnson
Coastguard and Border Force officials were called in to intercept the boats - Getty Images Europe

Thirty-six suspected migrants have been intercepted by Border Force off Dover - the largest number this year, as authorities say that warm weather and the bank holiday could have been behind the spike in traffic.

In the last month, nearly a dozen boats reached UK waters, carrying a total of 92 people. Most have presented themselves as Iranian and Iraqi, and while the majority are men, a handful of women and young children have also been rescued.

On Easter Monday, three small boats were intercepted within the space of a few hours.

In the first incident, a Border Force cutter was scrambled to meet a small boat with a group of 11 men on board, who said they were Iranian and Iraqi.

They were taken on to the Border Force vessel and transferred to immigration officials for interview after undergoing a medical assessment.

Small boats similar to these were used in the latest series of crossings Credit: Steve Finn

In the second incident, another small boat was found with 15 people on board - made up of men and women and children, who said they were Iraqi. They were taken to Dungeness by the RNLI before being handed over to immigration officials.

And a short while later, Border Force intercepted a third boat with nine men and one woman on board, who said they were Iranian. They were also taken to Dover.

Authorities in France, who intercepted 21 people attempting to cross the Channel earlier this month, say that warm weather and a lull in maritime traffic may have influenced the smugglers’ decision to send boats out to sea.

Ingrid Parrot, from the French Naval headquarters for the Channel and North Sea, said: “Of course, the weather is a big factor in when people choose to go, and it has been very good this weekend.

“But it is not the only factor. There is maybe less traffic on the sea, which means they might think it is easier to cross.

“It is sometimes thought that because it is a public holiday, there are fewer people working so it will be easier to cross. This is not true. We still have Gendarmes patrolling, one boat out at sea and helicopters on standby.”

Ms Parrot said that it was difficult to determine exactly when and from where crossings would take place, but that as the spring turns to summer “it is probable that more people will try to cross.”

The Home Office also confirmed that two Coastal Patrol Vessels and two cutters, HMC Vigilant and HMC Searcher, remain deployed in the Channel working as part of an enhanced patrol rotation.

They added that Border Force’s deployment of maritime capabilities is kept under constant review and that they "will always ensure the necessary resources are available to maintain security and to protect human life."

There are still hundreds of people in makeshift camps in Calais, trying to get to the UK Credit: Paul Grover

New figures show that there are at least 281 unaccompanied minors living around Calais, trying to reach the UK, and charities have warned that French security measures are pushing them into the “margins of society”.

Maddy Allen, field manager at Help Refugees, told the Independent: “Securitisation measures have really gone up since the attention on the migrant boat crossings in November. They’ve fenced up under the bridges where people used to sleep. Walls have been erected around the petrol station. It looks like a prison.

“But the rate of people trying to cross hasn’t slowed down. They are still here. People are pitching their tents on the side of the motorway. They’re sleeping in the surrounding area but they’re just further into the margins of society. They’re deep in the forest, deep in the landfill sites, deep in the sand dunes, just very hidden.”