Published On: Sat, May 16th, 2020

Border patrol intercept migrant boats – 17 returned to France while others reach UK | UK | News

Despite the ongoing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK borders are still facing threats of migrants entering the country illegally. The Border Force vessels Search and Hunter were involved.

BBC reporter Simon Jones tweeted: “17 migrants – including a baby and five children – were picked up by the French authorities and returned to France after their boat broke down in the Channel off Calais this morning.

“Several boats have succeeded in reaching the UK.”

Last week, a record 150 migrants crammed into 10 tiny dinghies were intercepted in the English Channel as they attempted to make an early morning crossing.

They were taken ashore by Border Force vessels after being spotted near Dover.

The has approached the Home Office for a comment.

Breaking news

Breaking news (Image: Express)

UK Border Force intercepts migrant vessels

UK Border Force intercepts migrant vessels (Image: Getty)

Despite Home Secretary Priti Patel vowing to tackle the problem, more than 1,065 migrants have already made the perilous crossing this year.

People-trafficking gangs have been taking advantage of calm conditions to smuggle huge numbers of people into Britain in recent days.

The most for a single day was 102 in February. The first week of May saw 76 people landing. 

In April, 523 people crossed the busy Dover Strait shipping lane.

READ MORE: Ten boats with record 150 migrants intercepted in English Channel

Home Secretary Priti Patel

Home Secretary Priti Patel said UK taxpayers will pay for more border patrols on the French coast (Image: Getty)

Nearly 700 people had reached Britain’s shores since the coronavirus lockdown before yesterday’s total was counted.

Border Force lifeboats and a coastguard helicopter were launched after yesterday’s alarm was raised.

A drone from Lydd airport in Kent was also used to spot the migrants. The first dinghy, which was packed with about 50 people, was picked up at around 2am.

It is understood Ms Patel asked France to take responsibility for migrant vessels – even if they reach British waters.

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Who is Priti Patel?

Who is Priti Patel? (Image: Express)

In return UK taxpayers will foot the bill for more patrols on the French coast.

Officials believe returning boats to France rather than escorting them to British ports will do more to undermine people smugglers.

Immigration minister Chris Philp said: “We are all working night and day to dismantle and arrest the criminal gangs who trade in people smuggling.

“This week the Home Secretary spoke to her French counterpart, interior minister Christophe Castaner, who reaffirmed the commitment to carry out more returns at sea to stop these illegal crossings. We will continue to take whatever action is necessary to stop this criminal trade, including changes to the law.”

UK Border Force near Dover

UK Border Force picks up at least three migrant vessels (Image: Getty)

Dover’s Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke said yesterday she welcomed Ms Patel’s commitment to end small boat crossings.

But she warned: “Today’s brazen illegal crossings as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day is another reminder why firm action is needed to stop the ruthless smuggling gangs and return boats to France.

“Only when migrants and traffickers alike know that they will not succeed in breaking into Britain in this way will these dangerous journeys cease.”

Back in April, it was reported gangs were using the coronavirus crisis to send boatloads of migrants to the UK but they were warned the net was closing in on them.

More than 1,065 migrants have entered the UK

More than 1,065 migrants have entered the UK (Image: Getty)

There are fears traffickers behind a rise in recent arrivals will attempt to use the warm weekend weather to launch a series of further illegal crossings. 

Border Force patrols intercepted small boats in the Channel on five consecutive days throughout April with 130 brought into Dover. 

Around 63 migrants crammed in four small dinghies were stopped. This followed 56 who arrived on April 4.

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