More migrants crossed English Channel to UK so far this year than in whole of 2021

A group of people, thought to be migrants, are brought in to Dover, Kent, on Monday onboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel. Credit: PA Images

The number of people detected crossing the English Channel in small boats so far this year is now higher than the total for the whole of 2021, according to provisional figures from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

28,561 people had been detected up to and including Monday, September 12. The 2021 figure stands at 28,526.

It is also nearly double the number that had been detected by this point last year, which was just under 14,500.

There were 601 people and 19 boats detected on Monday, suggesting an average of 32 people per boat.

Those on board were wearing life vests and face masks as they were brought to the mainland.

The MoD said there were a total of eight boats intercepted as they crossed to the UK on Sunday.

The highest number recorded in a single day stands at 1,295, which happened on August 22.

Protesters outside the High Court in London in June 2022. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, campaigners continue to challenge the Government's plan to send migrants to Rwanda.

Several asylum seekers, the Public and Commercial Services union and groups Care4Calais and Detention Action have questioned the legality of the plan.

In April, the then Home Secretary Priti Patel signed what she described as a "world-first agreement" with Rwanda in a bid to deter migrants from crossing the Channel.

But the first deportation flight, due to take off on June 14, was grounded amid a series of legal challenges.

A small boat arrives on UK soil after crossing the English Channel. Credit: ITV News

How many people have made the crossing?

The number has increased steadily each year since 299 people were detected making the journey in 2018.

There were 1,843 crossings detected in 2019, 8,466 in 2020 and 28,526 in 2021, according to the Home Office.

The current cumulative total for 2022, 28,561, is nearly double the number at this point last year (14,474).

This year has seen both a record daily number of crossings (1,295 on August 22) and a record for monthly crossings (a provisional figure of 8,644 for August).

Of the 28,561 people who have been provisionally detected so far this year, 23,293 have crossed since the Government announced on April 14 that it had agreed a deal to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The first deportation flight – due to take off on June 14 – was grounded amid a series of legal challenges.

The first deportation flight to Rwanda was grounded amid a series of legal challenges. Credit: PA

Who are the arrivals?

In 2021 more than half of the people detected crossing the Channel were of Iranian or Iraqi nationality (30% and 22% of the total respectively).

A further 10% were Eritrean, 9% were Syrian and 5% were from Afghanistan.

This year has seen a change in the breakdown of nationalities.

Across the first six months of 2022, Afghans and Albanians each accounted for 18% of arrivals – the highest proportion of any nationality.

Iranians accounted for 15%, Iraqis 13% and Syrians 9%.

These figures are based on the total number of arrivals for whom nationality has been recorded by the Home Office.

Former home secretary Priti Patel said in the House of Commons on September 5 that Albanian nationals accounted for around 60% of the people arriving in the UK via small boats over the summer.

28,561 people have crossed the English Channel so far in 2022. Credit: PA

How many are making the crossing per boat?

The average has risen steadily since the start of 2021.

In 2018 there were fewer than 10 people per boat, while in 2019 and 2020 the figure tended to fluctuate between single figures and the high teens.

From 2021 the average started to increase, reaching 20 in March and 30 in August.

It reached 40 people per boat in June 2022 and hit 46 in August.

How many apply for asylum?

Of the 50,297 people who arrived between January 2018 and June 2022, 94% (47,306) applied for asylum, 91% as main applicants (43,066), the Home Office said.

As of June this year, just 16% of the main applicants had received an initial decision on their application, 2% had withdrawn their application, and the remainder were still waiting.

Among those who had received an initial decision since 2018 (6,910), nearly half (49%) were granted asylum or another type of leave.

Some 43% of applications were not considered on “third country grounds” – meaning the UK government instead sought the person’s removal to a safe third country because the applicant had a connection to that country where they could “reasonably have been expected to claim asylum” before reaching the UK.

The remaining 8% were refused asylum for other reasons, such as their claim being “clearly unfounded” or the claimant not meeting the requirements for refugee status.