Number of migrants crossing Channel in 2022 tops 13,000

Number of migrants crossing English Channel in 2022 tops 13,000 as another 248 were caught trying to get to UK yesterday despite Europe-wide police raids on traffickers

  • Five small boats were picked up on Wednesday after 40 people crossed on July 5
  • The number of people reaching the UK this year could be the highest on record
  • 13,103 people have landed in the UK this year with babies arriving this week
  • With warmer, calmer weather over the weekend more crossings are expected

The number of people to reach the UK in small boats this year reached more than 13,100 after another 248 were intercepted in the English Channel on Wednesday, according to government figures.

Five boats were picked up on Wednesday carrying the 248 migrants, after 40 people made the crossing on Tuesday.

One group were brought ashore by lifeboat on the beach at Dungeness after dark.

It takes the official total so far this year to 13,103 in nearly 400 boats.

In just two days this week 403 people have been picked up by the authorities attempting the 21-mile wide crossing.

According to government figures 28,526 people made the journey in 2021 – compared to 8,410 who arrived in 2020.

A group of 30 people were picked up by UK Border Force during the 21-mile crossing from France yesterday, July 6, including children and women clutching babies

A woman is wrapped in a blanket as she attempts to recover from the cold crossing on Tuesday, July 5

The government releases daily data on the number of people who reach the UK by small boats, including both those who make it to sure and those who are intercepted by authorities before being brought to the UK.

Government figures released yesterday showed around 30 people were brought ashore by the UK Border Force on Tuesday (July 5), including children and several women carrying babies. 

The latest arrivals come after it was revealed dozens of people were arrested in a series of raids across Europe as the National Crime Agency (NCA) joined the biggest ever international operation targeting small boat people smugglers on Tuesday.

Operation Punjum, led by the NCA in Britain, was carried out alongside Operation Thoren in Europe to smash gangs allegedly charging migrants up to £3,500 each to take them to the UK. 

Some of these boats have been packed with up to 60 people at a time. 

NCA officers arrested six people in London – including two who were detained on suspicion of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.

Two other men were arrested for immigration offences, while a man and woman were both detained on suspicion of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply.

Five boats were picked up on Wednesday carrying the 248 migrants, after 40 people made the crossing on Tuesday (picture: migrants are picked up by Border Force agents on Tuesday)

An individual is arrested by National Crime Agency officers in connection with people smuggling operations

Operations Punjum and Thoren in the UK and across Europe this week led to 40 arrests, as well as the discovery of 900 life jackets and a site with more than 60 small boats

Arrests were also made in Germany, the Netherlands and France, with 900 life jackets found and 60 small boats, such as dinghies, recovered at one location alone.

In total the operation saw 135 boats, 45 outboard engines and more than 1,200 life jackets seized. 

Despite the latest measures to deter traffickers, including the controversial plan to send some who make the crossing to Rwanda, migrant crossings are expected to increase this week as the weather forecast in the Channel improves.

A Government spokesperson said: ‘The rise in dangerous Channel crossings is unacceptable.

‘Not only are they an overt abuse of our immigration laws, but they risk lives and hinder our ability to help refugees who come to the UK through safe and legal routes.

‘The Nationality and Borders Act will enable us to crack down on abuse of the system and the evil people smugglers, who will now be subject to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

‘Under our new Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda, we are continuing preparations to relocate those who are making dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys into the UK in order for their claims to be considered and rebuild their lives.’

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who last night called for UK PM Boris Johnson to resign, said: ‘These arrests send a clear message to the criminal gangs who are preying on vulnerable people across Europe and beyond: we will stop at nothing to end your sordid trade, bring you to justice and save lives.

‘This hugely significant operation once again shows the NCA and our international partners working diligently to dismantle people-smuggling networks.

‘These callous individuals treat human lives as a commodity and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure that they feel the full force of our new, tougher laws designed to break their business model and suitably punish them for their despicable crimes.’

With warmer, calmer weather expected over the weekend, it is likely more crossings will be seen before the week is out.

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