More migrants intercepted in Channel as numbers reach 1,000 since lockdown

  • Video report by ITV News Meridian's John Ryall

The scale of the migrant crisis in the Channel was evident today (Wednesday 20th) as more small boats tried to reach Dover.

The Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had hired a boat and a cameraman to see, what he claimed, was evidence that French vessels were accompanying dinghies towards the Kent coast.

He called the lifeguard after his vessel was the first to reach one crowded dinghy taking on water.

ITV News Meridian captured the moment 22 migrants were brought into Dover by Border Force at first light on Wednesday.

  • Watch: Border Force vessel arrives in Dover carrying migrants rescued from small boats in the Channel

According to local people, those on board described themselves as Kurds and Iraqis.

At least 1,000 migrants have now crossed to the UK on small boats since the coronavirus lockdown was announced, according to data gathered by the PA news agency.

Eight more migrants were taken ashore in Dover on Monday 18th after being intercepted by a Border Force boat at 2.30am.

During periods of calm weather refugees are piling into inflatable boats, up to 50 per vessel, and making the dangerous crossing.

At least 145 migrants made it to the UK on VE Day, believed to be a single-day record.

In line with Public Health England guidance migrants are not specifically tested for coronavirus, but are continuously monitored for symptoms.

Credit: ITV Meridian

Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, Chris Philp, says: “We are all working night and day to dismantle and arrest the criminal gangs who trade in people smuggling. Criminals are abusing vulnerable men, women and children by trafficking them across the Channel. This illegal and criminal activity is subject to heavy law enforcement activity by Border Force, the National Crime Agency, Immigration Enforcement and French law enforcement. Over 1,100 migrants were arrested in France in the first quarter of this year and in 2019 Immigration Enforcement made 418 arrests, leading to 203 convictions for a total of 437 years."