Migrant crossings are a "major threat" to the UK border

Credit: PA

Migrants risking their lives crossing the dangerous English Channel in hugenumbers are becoming a "major threat" to the UK Border, a committee hasheard.

Tony Smith CBE, a former head of the Border Force, told the Commons home affairs committee yesterday that he cannot see an immediate end to the crisis.

It comes as more migrants were picked up by the French authorities on Friday.

At least 1,121 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.

The committee heard that migrants are told by smugglers that if they get picked up by Border Force then they will get into the UK.

Mr Smith said the Government needs to have a "very serious look" at itscapabilities and that more needs to be done to stop them trying to reach the UK via the Kent coast.

Mr Smith was among a panel of witnesses who gave evidence at the meeting, which also included the chief operations officer at the Port of Dover, Sarah West.

This was declared a critical incident by the Home Secretary last year.

Tony Smith CBE, former head of the Border Force

Mr Smith was also asked by Ruth Edwards MP about footage that has been widely shared on social media this week.

The Rushcliffe MP said: "It appears to show a French naval vessel accompanying a migrant dinghy with migrants in it from French waters into British waters, which I think surprised a lot of people because they thought they would be accompanying them back to France."