Home Office spent over £23,000 on social media adverts telling migrants not to cross Channel

Library image of migrant crossing in Dover Credit: ITV Meridian

A freedom of information request has revealed the Home Office has spent more than £23,000 on social media adverts targeting migrants living in France. 

The advertisements, telling people not to cross the channel, have been running on Facebook and Instagram.

The Home Office said they reached thousands of people, highlighting the risks of making the dangerous crossing. 

The advertisements featured slogans such as "There is no hiding place", "Don't put your or your child's life in danger" and "We will return you", which have been translated into Kurdish, Arabic, Persian and Pashto.

However, since the five-month campaign ended, more than 7,000 people have gone on to cross to the UK in small boats, according to data compiled by PA.

The crossings have continued despite various attempts by the Home Office to stop them and make the route "unviable".

Many of those who saw the campaign on Facebook and Instagram are people who have been assisted by migrant charity Care4Calais while living in France.

Founder Clare Moseley accused the Home Office of "wasting money" and called on the Government to step up to help refugees.

She added: "I'm genuinely horrified by the lengths this Government will go to to avoid helping desperate people.

"Refugees risk their lives to escape from some of the world's most dangerous countries, fully aware that this could be the last journey they make.

Others were shown the adverts by Care4Calais volunteers, with many saying it would not stop them risking the perilous crossing.

One Sudanese man who saw the pictures on Facebook said: "We know that crossing and taking a boat is really dangerous, but we don't have the choice. UK is our only chance and better than Calais."

A 23-year-old man from Afghanistan said he also saw the images.

He said: "We are not here for fun. We have problems in our country, can't even celebrate Christmas or Eid. We will accept these if it means UK. Seen worse than this in Kabul."

Library image of migrants on a beach Credit: ITV Meridian

Dan O'Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander for the Home Office, said: "We are seeing an unacceptable rise in dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossings.

"The adverts are aimed at dissuading migrants in France and Belgium from making dangerous attempts to enter the UK.

"They have reached thousands of migrants highlighting the risk to life of making these journeys and providing information on claiming asylum in the safe country they are in."