Migrants cross Channel in 72 hours… as MPs meet for crisis inquiry

Migrants are paying thousands of pounds to reach British shores because they believe they will not be sent away, with some even calling emergency services from their boats rather than trying to sneak it, it has been revealed.

In the past 72 hours, 35 people including a baby made the crossing, adding to the hundreds – mostly Iranian nationals – who have reached Britain in recent months.

Such is the optimism among migrants that many willingly hand over £5,000 to fixers who arrange the journey, with prices dependent on the level of risk involved.

In what is seen as a significant shift, the migrants are now actively seeking out authorities. with some even dialling 999 from their boats, as opposed to attempting to slip into the country undetected.

Steve Rodhouse, director-general of operations at the National Crime Agency, said: ‘People are actively seeking being caught or engaging with UK authorities because rightly or wrongly, they don’t fear being returned.

‘That, I think, is something that is a significant player in the issue here.’

Iranians are bought ashore at Dover Marina yesterday as the Channel migrant crisis continues

Iranians are bought ashore at Dover Marina yesterday as the Channel migrant crisis continues

Iranians are bought ashore at Dover Marina yesterday as the Channel migrant crisis continues

Home Secretary Sajid Javid previously sparked controversy by questioning whether those attempting to cross the Channel are genuine asylum seekers.

A report published last month claimed that fewer than half of failed asylum seekers are removed from the UK.

Mr Javid declared a ‘major incident’ and ordered two Border Force boats to be redeployed to the Channel following an increase in attempted crossings.  

The figures comes on the same day it was revealed that the UK’s most senior police and border officials were called to Parliament to explain how they are tackling the crisis.

Kent Chief Constable Alan Pughsley told MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Committee – who have called an inquiry into the spike in incidents – admitted there was an ongoing incident off Dover this morning.

He said that the UK Border Force was bringing in a boat carrying around 13 migrants ‘as we speak’ and the hearing was told migrants heading to the UK are now ‘wanting to be found and helped’ in a shift away from ‘clandestine’ trips of the past.

Kent Chief Constable Alan Pughsley (right) said a boat was being taken into Dover 'as we speak' while appearing in front of MPs with National Crime Agency director Steve Rodhouse (left) and Julie-Anne Wood (centre), head of operations at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency 

Kent Chief Constable Alan Pughsley (right) said a boat was being taken into Dover 'as we speak' while appearing in front of MPs with National Crime Agency director Steve Rodhouse (left) and Julie-Anne Wood (centre), head of operations at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency 

Kent Chief Constable Alan Pughsley (right) said a boat was being taken into Dover ‘as we speak’ while appearing in front of MPs with National Crime Agency director Steve Rodhouse (left) and Julie-Anne Wood (centre), head of operations at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency 

Mr Pughsley was appearing in front of MPs with National Crime Agency director Steve Rodhouse and Julie-Anne Wood, head of operations at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. 

Mr Rodhouse, a former Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said 500 had made the trip in the past year – 80 per cent of those journeys were in the past two months. 

More than 100 people have made the 21-mile journey across the Channel in 2019 – down from 250 in December. 

Kent Police said they were informed of today’s crossing just before 5am on Tuesday.

The Border Force cutter HMC Seeker and the Coastal Patrol Vessel Speedwell were deployed to intercept and took 13 people on board, 10 adults and three children including a baby.

A force spokesman said: ‘At 4.59am Kent Police was made aware of a vessel transporting 13 suspected migrants in the middle of the English Channel.

‘The vessel was intercepted by Border Force and brought safely back to Dover, where those on board were taken to a Home Office facility.’

Just yesterday 15 Iranian migrants were caught just hours after a family of seven were picked up.

At 9am and 12pm two boats were spotted off the Kent coast.  

Border Force officials transferred the group to immigration officials for interview, and arrested four on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK, the Home Office confirmed. 

While five were transferred to immigration officials for interview, the sixth man was arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK. 

The group of 15 men, were seen wearing life jackets and covered in blankets as they were brought ashore at Dover Marina from a Border Force cutter this afternoon.

Men are bought ashore at Dover Marina, following a small boat incident in the English Channel. A group of men wearing life jackets and covered in blankets were seen being brought ashore at Dover Marina from a Border Force cutter

Men are bought ashore at Dover Marina, following a small boat incident in the English Channel. A group of men wearing life jackets and covered in blankets were seen being brought ashore at Dover Marina from a Border Force cutter

Men are bought ashore at Dover Marina, following a small boat incident in the English Channel. A group of men wearing life jackets and covered in blankets were seen being brought ashore at Dover Marina from a Border Force cutter

A Border Force spokesman said: ‘Border Force have dealt with two incidents involving small boats in the Channel today. 

‘At approximately 9am, Border Force was alerted to a small vessel in the Channel. 

‘HMC Vigilant and coastal patrol vessel (CPV) Speedwell were sent to the scene and nine males were brought to Dover. 

‘Six males were transferred to immigration officials for interview. The remaining three males have been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK. 

‘The investigation is being dealt with by Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation officers. 

‘At approximately 1200, Border Force was alerted to a sighting of a second small vessel off the Kent coast. 

‘It was located and the six males on board were transferred to coastal patrol vessel (CPV) Alert and brought to Dover. 

‘Five males were transferred to immigration officials for interview. 

‘The sixth man has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK. 

‘The investigation is being dealt with by Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation officers. 

‘All 15 presented themselves as Iranian and were found to be medically well.’ 

On Sunday a family of seven was found near Kingsdown after an empty dinghy was spotted in the Channel.

Border Force officials transferred 11 men to immigration officials for interview, and arrested four on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK, the Home Office confirmed

Border Force officials transferred 11 men to immigration officials for interview, and arrested four on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK, the Home Office confirmed

Border Force officials transferred 11 men to immigration officials for interview, and arrested four on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK, the Home Office confirmed

The mother, father and five children were handed over to immigration officials.

At the time a Home Office spokesman said: ‘Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December we have tripled the number of cutters operating in the Channel, agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.’

The number of people attempting to cross the Channel dropped from roughly 250 in December to 90 in January, with about half of the January attempts being intercepted in France before reaching British waters, the spokesman added.

A week ago a group of 34 men, women and children were detained after cutters and a coastal patrol boat intercepted a dinghy. 

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