More migrants rescued after being found in Channel

By Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent

More migrants have been rescued off the Kent coast as the wave of people trying to cross the Channel from France in small boats continues.

The Home Office said 29 people were handed over to immigration officials on Monday.

In the morning, a group of people draped in blankets were seen being brought ashore at the Port of Dover by Border Force officials.

The group were searched, handed over to immigration officials and taken away in a van after coming ashore at around 11am.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought to shore by Border Force officers at the Port of Dover in Kent on Monday (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The Home Office said Border Force was alerted to a small boat crossing the Channel at around 4.30am and eight men, a woman and two children – who said they were Iraqi and Iranian – were found on board.

Meanwhile the French coastguard said it rescued nine migrants – six men, a woman and two children – shortly after 5am when the engine on their boat failed. They were taken to Boulogne-sur-Mer and handed over to police at around 8.15am.

At around 8.30am, Border Force intercepted a group of 11 men, three women and two children who were also taken to Dover and handed over to immigration officials.

On Monday afternoon, Sussex Police found more people on Fairlight Beach, Hastings, East Sussex. A woman and a child have been handed over to the Home Office.

The crossings continued on Monday after a wave of migrant camp clearances in France last week. On Tuesday hundreds of riot police moved in at the Grande-Synthe site in Dunkirk before dawn to clear the camp.

The group were searched and taken away in vans (Gareth Fuller/PA)

On Sunday, 41 migrants in four craft were caught heading for UK shores amid sunny weather and relatively calm sea conditions.

Two men, who said they were an Iranian and an Afghan, were picked up after attempting the perilous voyage in a kayak, the Home Office said.

A boat carrying 24 migrants – two of whom were children – was intercepted, with another vessel carrying five men and a woman also found.

A third boat, carrying seven men and two women, was also found.

The migrants said they were Iranian, Afghan, Turkish and Malian.

All were handed over to immigration officials.

This comes days after Border Force intercepted what is thought to be the highest number of migrants in a single day amid warnings the closure of a French camp could prompt a spike in Channel crossings.

At least 86 men, women and children attempted the journey in small boats on September 10, with some managing to land on beaches before being detained.

(PA Graphics)

Charities have warned the imminent closure of a gym in Dunkirk, where up to 1,000 migrants are living including more than 70 families with young children, is likely to prompt a spike in crossing attempts.

On Friday, French police officers – including some who appeared to be armed with tear gas guns – cordoned off a road by an area of wasteland and woodland on the outskirts of Calais, telling those camping there to leave and move their tents.

That same day the National Crime Agency said six people suspected of being part of organised crime groups smuggling migrants across the Channel in lorries and small boats had been arrested that week.

The number of migrants taken in by UK authorities so far this year is thought to have already passed 1,000.

Border Force cutters are continuing to patrol the Channel while drones, CCTV and night vision goggles are used, the Home Office said.

Last month, Home Secretary Priti Patel said urgent action was needed to put a stop to the tide of crossings, after she met French interior minister Christophe Castaner in Paris.

More detail on the action plan is yet to be released.