Migrant crisis: Border force stops almost 300 people trying to cross Channel in single day

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And the man tasked with preventing people from crossing the waterway illegally has said such incidents were on the rise. In total, border force officials stopped a total of eight boats containing a total of 284 migrants yesterday.

But in an apparent illustration of the disparity which characterises enforcement of the sea border, French authorities prevented just one vessel, carrying a further 20 people, from reaching UK waters.

Commenting, Dan O’Mahoney, who was appointed clandestine channel threat commander almost exactly a year ago, warned of a rise in small boat crossings as a result of “a surge in illegal migration across Europe”.

He said: “We have signed a strengthened agreement with our French counterparts to increase police patrols on French beaches and enhance intelligence sharing.

“The Government continues to take steps to tackle the unacceptable problem of illegal migration through the Nationality & Borders Bill which will protect lives and break this cycle of illegal crossings.”

In total, more than 9,700 people have reached the UK in dinghies since the start of 2020.

Drone pictures last month showed more than 100 small boats piled up in rows in a fenced-off compound – evidence of perhaps thousands of people’s journeys to the UK in 2021.

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Former Brexit Party leader turned GB News presenter Nigel Farage stirred up controversy last month after claiming the Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI) was a “taxi service for illegal immigration”.

Mr Farage’s intervention has been credited with a massive spike in donations to the charity, with £200,000 raised on its website in a single 24-hour period this week.

This was up significantly on the average daily donation total, which is around £7,000.

Speaking on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he did not believe a “robust approach” to small boats crossing the English Channel was at odds with the “heart and soul” of the RNLI.

He told LBC: “The RNLI do an incredible job, they have got this great heart and soul to them and they do an amazing job.

“I think they operate within the legal rules and that is part of this country. We are a big-hearted country.

“At the same time, if we are talking about the wider small boats issue, that is something where, absolutely at the same time, we need to come down as hard as is humanly possible, working with our French partners.”

He later said: “To see the threat of the criminal gangs trying to launch from France to the UK as early as possible, that is partly intelligence, it is partly technology, and secondly have the strongest criminal action including prosecution sentences against those criminal elements that feed like parasites off the human misery of those people making that journey.

“I don’t think that is inconsistent, that robust approach.”

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