Migrants found hours after empty inflatable boat washed up on Kent beach

Police and Border Force personnel have found a group of migrants hours after an empty inflatable boat was left on a Kent beach.

The officials and a paramedic were seen with the men in Harden Road, Lydd, on Monday – giving them foil blankets and police jackets to keep warm.

This came after a search by the coastguard, sparked when the empty dinghy was found three-and-a-half miles away on the shore at Dungeness at around 8.10am.

Teams carried out an “extensive search” that was stood down once it was clear no one had been left stranded in the sea.

Paramedics take care of migrants found following a search. Credit: PA

A Home Office spokesperson said "search of the local area found eight people. Seven of those are now in Border Force care and the eighth has been transferred to hospital.

“A ninth man, who was also found in the area, has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK. The incident is currently being investigated by officers from Immigration Enforcement’s Criminal and Financial Investigation team.”

The operation came amid heightened concerns over the number of migrants trying to cross the Channel.

In December, Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared the situation a “major incident” and announced plans to bring two Border Force cutters back to the UK to boost sea patrols.

A Navy vessel, HMS Mersey – which was on patrol this morning, is being used to guard the Channel until the cutters return.

Sajid Javid is under pressure over the government's response. Credit: PA

Mr Javid said that “in almost every case” those who make the journey in these circumstances go on to claim asylum in the UK.

These asylum applicants are given a medical assessment before being transferred to immigration officials for an initial interview.

They are then provided with accommodation while their application proceeds through the system.

Of the 504 migrants seeking to cross the English Channel in 2018, 276 managed to get to British waters and coasts, and 228 were intercepted by the French authorities.

Most of the people were Iranian, according to the French Interior ministry.