Authorities urged to ‘get a grip’ after migrants make Channel crossing

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The authorities have been urged to “get a grip” after dozens of migrants crossed the Channel over Christmas.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said the Home Office and National Crime Agency did not appear to be on top of the problem.

Some 40 migrants crossed the English Channel on Christmas Day, while three more were intercepted overnight.

Authorities were called to five separate instances involving people presenting themselves as Iraqi, Iranian and Afghan on December 25.

A further five people turned up at Dover police station early on Christmas Day saying they were Iranians who had arrived by boat – an abandoned craft was subsequently discovered.

Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has criticised the authorities' response to the situation in the Channel (Rick Findler/PA)
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has criticised the authorities’ response to the situation in the Channel (Rick Findler/PA)

“With well over 100 migrants having broken into Britain in recent weeks they need urgently to explain what they are doing to put a stop to these crossings.

“This is an incredibly dangerous crossing to make in the middle of winter.

“Our volunteer lifeboat crews are being called out nearly every day – even during Christmas.

“The British and French authorities must get a grip and find and stop the traffickers behind these crossings before there is a tragedy in the English Channel.”

A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed that three more migrants were intercepted overnight.

Shortly after midnight, Border Force was made aware that three men on board a small boat, who presented themselves as Iranian, had been rescued by the French authorities near Dover.

The men were transferred to the UK authorities and will be interviewed by immigration officials.

The crossings follow a number of migrant rescues in recent months involving people trying to travel across the Channel to Britain.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Home Office said: “Border Force has intercepted a number of boats containing migrants attempting to cross the Channel overnight and this morning, and has deployed resources to deal with these incidents.

“The evidence shows there is organised criminal gang activity behind illegal migration attempts by small boats across the Channel.

“We are working closely with the French and law enforcement partners to target these gangs, who exploit vulnerable people and put lives at risk.”

Campaigners said the authorities should help migrants make the crossing to the UK if they wish to claim asylum, rather than have them risk crossing the busy shipping lanes in the Channel.

Kent Refugee Action Network spokeswoman Bridget Chapman told the BBC: “We shouldn’t have to have a situation where people are forced to make such a hazardous journey, pushed into the hands of people traffickers, pushed into being exploited.

“We need to find a way to facilitate it so that they are able to do that journey safely.”

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