Nearly 250 migrants were turned back by the French authorities and 212 intercepted by UK vessels on Sunday. An investigation by i last week revealed new tactics being used by smuggling gangs.
More than 200 people crossing the English Channel in small boats were intercepted by UK authorities and rescue services in a single day this weekend as smuggling gangs step up their efforts to profit from the desperation of migrants to reach Britain.
Border Force officials intervened in six crossings on Sunday, bringing some 212 individuals ashore, while the French authorities said they intercepted 238 people on seven vessels trying to make the highly dangerous 25-mile journey from the Calais coast towards Dover.
i last week revealed how organised crime gangs are adopting increasingly audacious tactics, including sending flotillas of decoy “economy class” dinghies into the Channel to allow high-powered “first class” boats a higher chance of reaching Britain.
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Refugee groups have warned that the summer months are likely to bring a sharp increase in attempts by migrants gathered on the northern French coast to take to inflatable boats after paying anywhere from £4,000 to £10,000 to smuggling gangs to organise crossings.
Sunday’s total of 212 arrivals represents a particularly busy day in the ongoing small boats crisis. Figures published last week showed some 2,200 migrants – some 75 per day – reached Britain in this manner in June, the highest montly number on record.
Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander for Border Force, said: “We are seeing an unacceptable rise in dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossings because illegal migration across Europe has led to a significant increase of migrants in northern France seeking to enter the UK illegally.”
Mr O’Mahoney said there has been doubling of the number of police officers “on the ground” in France. Britain has set up a joint intelligence cell with the French authorities in Calais looking to disrupt the activities of the international smuggling gangs.
The Home Office has announced tougher penalties for those making or orchestrating crossings as part of its proposed overhaul of the asylum system.
The investigation by i highlighted how trafficking groups use social media to promote their “service”, all the while minimising their own risk of capture by using couriers such as taxi drivers to deliver inflatable boats to departure zones and migrants themselves to pilot the vessels.