More migrants cross Channel as annual total nears 25,000

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Women and children are among a group of people brought ashore by an RNLI lifeboat as the number of people crossing the English Channel this year by small boats nears 25,000.

About 40 people were brought to Dungeness in Kent before they were taken by coach to a Home Office processing facility.

The arrivals are expected to be the first of several boats making the crossing as the weather stays calm in the Channel after no journeys were known to be made on Friday.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness (Gareth Fuller/PA)

As of Thursday, 24,231 people had made the crossing this year with the possibility of the 25,000 milestone being reached during the bank holiday weekend.

Saturday’s arrivals come as it was revealed that the cost of the UK’s asylum system has topped £2 billion a year, with the highest number of claims for two decades and record delays for people awaiting a decision.

Home Office spending on asylum rose by £756 million from around £1.4 billion in 2020/21 to £2.1 billion in 2021/22. This is the highest on record and is more than double the amount spent in 2019/20, official figures showed.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
The group was taken by coach to a processing centre (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The 63,089 applications in the year to June 2022 is also the highest number for any 12-month period since the year to June 2003 when 71,316 applications were made, according to the department.

Officials are understood to be working hard to reduce the backlog of outstanding asylum claims but are struggling to keep up with the number of new applications.