Number of migrants crossing the English Channel surpasses 2020 record

Watch: Video report by ITV News Meridian's John Ryall

The number of migrants crossing the English Channel so far this year has surpassed the total for the whole 2020 - setting a new record.

At least 287 migrants reached UK shores yesterday, bringing to the total for the year to at least 8,452.

This news follows a new record set on Monday, where 430 migrants arrived in a single day - the highest yet.

Dan O'Mahoney, clandestine channel threat commander for the Home Office, said the Government "continues to take steps to tackle the unacceptable problem".

On Tuesday, a number of boats reached the UK after setting off from continental Europe, with dozens landing in Dungeness in Kent.

Many were brought to the beach aboard an RNLI lifeboat, where they were met by immigration officials.

Further along the coast, others were brought to the port of Dover by Border Force.

A group of people thought to be migrants are escorted from the beach in Dungeness, Kent, by Border Force officers. Credit: PA Images

Thousands of migrants have continued to make the trip across the Channel packed aboard often unseaworthy dinghies over the last 18 months, putting their lives at risk on one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, said:

"With today's record this Government loses all credibility in managing a safe and fair asylum system.

"Priti Patel can re-announce enhanced police cooperation with the French all day, every day, but until there is a political renegotiation to allow refugees safe passage to claim asylum at the U.K. border in France, this relatively small number of desperate people will continue risking everything for a shot at our protection."

However the Home Office says it is taking the necessary steps to address illegal immigration.

Dan O'Mahoney said:

"There is an unacceptable rise in dangerous small boat crossings across the channel because of a surge in illegal migration across Europe.

"Today we signed a strengthened agreement with our French counterparts to increase police patrols on French beaches and enhance intelligence sharing. This joint work has already prevented over 7,500 migrants enter the UK.

"The Government continues to take steps to tackle the unacceptable problem of illegal migration through the Nationality & Borders Bill which will protect lives and break this cycle of illegal crossings.

"The Government is also continuing to return those with no legal right to remain in the UK."

A group of people thought to be migrants crossing from France come ashore aboard the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent. Credit: PA Images

Home Secretary Priti Patel and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced an agreement on Tuesday to more than double the number of police patrolling French beaches for the second time in a year to prevent illegal migration and stop small boats from departing France.

As part of the deal, the Government will give France #54 million to support its efforts to stop small boat crossings.

Ms Patel said that British people have "had enough of illegal migration and the exploitation of migrants by criminal gangs".

Meanwhile the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office Matthew Rycroft has admitted that a number of child migrants have been held in offices in the Kent Intake Unit forlonger than the maximum 24-hour period permitted.

Yvette Cooper, chair of the Home Affairs Committee, asked him duringWednesday's hearing if it was true that some 14 and 15-year-olds had beensleeping on camp beds with no proper access to washing facilities for many days,with one spending 10 days at the unit.

Mr Rycroft replied: "I don't think anyone has been there for as long as thatbut if that is wrong then obviously I will write to you straight away."

He added: "I was there myself last week and there were a number of childrenthere in the sort of situation you describe but none for anything like 10 daysand since then all of those who were there have been moved to different parts ofthe country. It is not ideal...but it is better to hold them there than to not know where they are going."