A record-breaking 20,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to reach the UK so far this year in small boats – more than double last year’s total of 8,417. On Tuesday, approximately 400 migrants took advantage of relatively calm conditions to cross the channel after a week of stormy weather, adding to the 19,750 people who have already reached the UK so far this year.
More than 1,000 migrants reached the UK in the space of two days alone in October as good weather saw channel crossings resume. The most recent crossings come just one week after tragedy struck during a crossing on 26 October, when three Somali migrants were lost at sea and feared dead before two compatriots were rescued from a dingy 30 miles off Harwich in Essex. It is believed to be the biggest loss of life off the coast of England since the Channel migrant crisis escalated in 2019, and follows two other known tragedies in French waters.
The record figures of migrants arriving, not yet confirmed officially by the Home Office, came as a report was published claiming that less Channel migrants and people smugglers were being arrested by immigration enforcement officers in the UK despite the increased number of arrivals. Last month, it was reported that the surge in arrivals of asylum seekers in the UK had been so great that they had to be held in tents and portacabins on a quayside car park.
With Border Force overwhelmed by the record number of arrivals, the Dover Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) said the jump in numbers of migrants had been so great that the inundated Border Force had to keep migrants in “manifestly unsuitable” tents and portacabins on a quayside car park. The IMB said that the facilities at Tug Haven were not appropriate for children or vulnerable people and put their welfare at risk. At some stages, it said the facilities on a jetty on Dover’s western docks became so overcrowded that some of the migrants were even held on a double-decker bus parked at the site.
Further, the Home Office admitted for the first time that it had not returned any Channel migrants who arrived in the UK in 2021 to any EU countries through which they passed and where they should have claimed asylum instead of in Britain.
In June, the chairman of Migration Watch UK slammed the UK Government for failing to take back control of the borders as promised. Meanwhile, a recent report in the UK’s Mail on Sunday revealed that the UK Government “has lost more than 900 foreign criminals including murderers, over 50 robbers and almost 40 rapists and sex offenders”. The disconcerting report further states that many of the foreign criminals are subject to deportation orders with “the number of those missing rising by more than 160 in two years”. It is believed they have escaped authorities by fleeing from jails, prison vans or disappearing after being released into the community.
Last week, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, addressing Parliament, admitted that 70 per cent of the migrants who crossed the Channel had entered the UK illegally as “single men who are effectively economic migrants… not genuine asylum seekers.”
Commenting on the two-fold increase in migrants crossing the Channel, former leader of The Brexit Party, Nigel Farage, said in a statement on Tuesday night: “Over 20,000 have now crossed the Channel in small boats in 2021 — as many more arrive today.”
He also pointed out that the vast majority of migrants coming to Britain last year were male, disputing the narrative that most are genuine refugees.
“This comes as the Home Office admit 87% that came in 2020 were men. These are not refugees, they are economic migrants,” Farage said.
Farage’s point on male refugees references a speech made by the Home Secretary Priti Patel in March 2021. In her address, she told Parliament that the dominance of economic migrants (the majority being males aged between 18-39) limits the ability to “properly support others in genuine need of protection” including refugee women and children, and should raise serious questions.
“The capacity of our asylum system is not unlimited. And so the presence of economic migrants which these illegal routes introduce, limits our ability to properly support others in genuine need of protection.
This is manifestly unfair to those desperately waiting to be resettled in the UK.
“And it is not fair to the British people either; whose taxes pay for vital public services and an asylum system which has skyrocketed in cost – now costing over 1 billion pounds this year.
There were more than 32,000 attempts tried to enter the UK illegally in 2019. With 8,500 people arriving by small boat in 2020. Of those, 87% were men, 74% were aged between 18-39.
“We should ask ourselves, where are the vulnerable women and children that this system should exist to protect?” Patel added.
The enormous increase has been met with repeated promises from the Home Office to get a grip on Channel crossings. Despite the Conservative Party’s pledge to control immigration for more than a decade, and Home Secretary Priti Patel promising to tackle the problem through new measures, since 2019, the numbers have continued to climb. Last month’s numbers are equivalent to an average of over 85 migrants daily, with The Times estimating that the annual total for 2021 will reach 22,000, with 400 migrants crossing the Channel on Tuesday alone.
In the meantime, there remain an estimated 2,000 migrants waiting in France to make the crossing after a record-breaking October which saw 2,669 people reach the UK – a staggering five times the 475 figure in the same month last year. Home office data reveals there have been just 46 arrests made by immigration enforcement in the nine months to September, which is a rate of just 0.3 per cent of arrivals. That stands in contrast to 113 arrests last year in connection with small boats, a rate of 1.3 per cent.
Chairman of Migration Watch UK, Alp Mehmet, said that the British people were looking on in ‘utter disbelief’ as the situation continues to worsen.
“As illegal arrivals have shot up the proportion of arrests has gone the other way, with zero returns reported this year of those who have come through, and set sail from, safe countries to get here.
“Meanwhile, the British people look on in utter disbelief as one Home Secretary after another fails to get a grip of an ever-worsening situation.”
However, Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said that the UK Government is “determined to tackle the deadly trade in people smuggling” using every available tool, at every stage in the journey. He also admitted that “this is a complicated issue requiring changes to our laws”.