Coastguard rescues 20 people from inflatable boat in English Channel

Twenty people, including 18 Albanians, were rescued from the English Channel in the early hours of Sunday after the inflatable boat they were in started taking on water.

The two other people on the boat are British, the Home Office has confirmed.

Among those rescued from rigid-hulled inflatable boat were a woman and two children, the Home Office said.

All were taken to Dover and where they were questioned by Border Force officers.

Live updates

Britain 'at risk' due to lack of coastal patrol boats

Credit: Wikipedia Commons

A former head of the Royal Navy has said that Britain is at risk from terrorists and traffickers because there are not enough boats patrolling UK waters.

Lord West told the Daily Mail that the situation was a "complete mess", as just three Border Force vessels patrol 7,700 miles of coastline.

Lord West said: "Already we have seen these illegal immigrants and I don't believe there aren't clever traffickers using the smaller ports to send them and I'm sure terrorists are aware of the route too.

"We need to get a grip on this. We are taking a gamble that nothing will ever happen in our seas and that is a risky view to take given the dangerous world we are in."

John Vine, who was independent chief inspector of borders and immigration until two years ago, said that despite warnings about the threat, there were not "sufficient resources" being given over to the issue.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, he said: "I think it is reasonable to assume that this is something that might have been happening and if this is now the start of a new trend we certainly need to gather the intelligence and the resources to nip it in the bud."

He added: "We have seen the tragedies that have occurred in the Mediterranean.

"I am not a nautical person but I would have thought crossing the Channel - with all the hazards in terms of cross-Channel traffic as well as the weather and the sea conditions - are going to mean there is an equal chance of people losing their lives unless this is stopped."

UK is 'woefully unprepared' in dealing with migrant crisis

The UK is "woefully unprepared" and "woefully ill-equipped" to deal with people smugglers, according to a border security expert.

Speaking to Good Morning Britain, Chris Hobbs, a former Special Branch officer, said "the Home office [is] playing catch-up" in dealing with the migrant coastal threat.

"Only now is the government is springing into any sort of action, and you have to question why... they really should have been well-prepared for something like this".

The border security expert also raised concern the threat posed by migrants crossing the English Channel could involve more than people smuggling.

"It's a question of firearms, it's a question of drugs", with the police marine units guarding the coastline "under threat because of cutbacks. It's not a pretty picture along our coastline."


Back to top

Latest ITV News reports