Number of people crossing English Channel in small boats surpasses 18,000 this year

The vast majority of people who crossed the Channel on small boats were brought into Dover. Credit: PA

The total number of people who have crossed the English Channel so far this year has passed 18,000, the latest Ministry of Defence figures suggest.

On Saturday, 337 people crossed the Channel in 10 small boats, bringing the total number of people brought to the UK on such boats this year to 18,108.

The milestone was broken just five days after 696 people were rescued by Border Force and brought to shore on Monday, the busiest day for Channel crossings so far this year.

PA analysis of the MoD’s provisional figures shows 1,709 people have been brought to the UK so far in August.

That is more than half of the 3,053 people rescued in August 2021.

The vast majority were brought to shore in Dover, however many, including those brought to shore on August 1, were taken to the Port of Ramsgate due to concerns about congestion around the Dover port caused by freight and holidaymaker traffic.

The busiest week for crossings so far in 2022 was the week to April 19 when 2,076 people made the dangerous journey across the Channel.

A group of people are brought into Ramsgate, Kent, on a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

However it is likely crossings will continue into next week, with the Met Office confirming warm weather and calm winds are set to continue in the south east of England.

Figures show that 12,840 people have made the crossing since Priti Patel announced the Rwanda deal on April 14.

The news comes after a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the British Red Cross, published on Wednesday, found that critical gaps in the UK asylum system mean people seeking safety, including those fleeing modern slavery, may be at risk of potential exploitation.

The research found that inadequate support is exposing people in need of protection to potential harm.

It cites examples of vulnerable asylum seekers forced into modern slavery, including domestic servitude, sexual and labour exploitation and forced criminality.

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The report concludes: “Straightforward changes to the asylum process would reduce these risks of exploitation by putting safety at the heart of the asylum system.”

The Home Office said it is considering the findings of the report.

A spokesman said: “We take the safety and wellbeing of thousands of people in asylum accommodation support extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring that individuals are protected from the heinous crime of modern slavery.

“Where we suspect an asylum seeker is in danger or at risk of exploitation, we will take the appropriate action, such as working with the police or supporting someone through the national referral mechanism.

“We would urge any asylum seeker who may be in trouble to report it immediately.

“Our new plan for immigration will fix the broken asylum system, enabling us to grant protection to those entitled to it and to remove those with no right to be here more quickly.”