Migrants rescued at Dover amid spike in illegal English Channel crossings

The eight men were pictured in blankets – having travelled in clothing unsuitable for the cold weather. Credit: ITV News

Eight migrants have been rescued from a dinghy off the Kent coast, as concerns continue to grow over a spike in illegal attempts at crossing the English Channel.

The latest group, who are believed to be Iranian, brought the total number of migrants found crossing the Channel by boat this week to 42.

All of the men rescued on Friday morning are now being interviewed by immigration officials.

They were pictured wrapped in blankets – having travelled in clothing unsuitable for the cold weather.

The Home Office has confirmed that, in the last two weeks alone, 86 migrants have been detained at sea - more than six times the number for the whole of 2017.

The Home Office is increasing checks at sea and on land. Credit: ITV News

It is not clear what has sparked the increase in numbers.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “A Border Force coastal patrol vessel was deployed and intercepted a dinghy off the Kent coast with eight people on board.

”The dinghy and those on board were brought into Dover where they were met by Border Force officers.“

The migrants have said they set off with "three or four" other boats from a sandy beach in France but the coastguard has been unable to locate the rest.

Fourteen migrants were rescued off the Kent coast on Thursday, with another 11 pulled from boats on the English Channel by French authorities the same day.

A further nine migrants were discovered clambering rocks in Folkestone on Sunday after landing in a small boat.

  • ITV News Correspondent Richard Pallot on the search for the missing boats

James Salmon works at Dover Marina Services and told ITV News: “Last week it just exploded. Absolutely exploded. Three or four days of settled weather and I think it was in the region of 60 came across that we know of – we had then another few days of rough weather – it’s come calm again. And again, they’re just flooding on over.”

The Home Office say they are increasing checks at sea and on land – insisting the key is to dismantle the organised crime routes that facilitate illegal immigration.

It is thought traffickers are telling migrants that crossing will become harder after Brexit with more border checks.

Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover and Deal told ITV News: "It's incredibly concerning. As winter sets in, it becomes steadily more dangerous.

"It's only a matter of time before there is a tragedy in the English Channel."