More migrants are picked up in Dover as MP calls Border Force ‘a taxi service for illegal migrants’ 


More migrants were picked up by officials and taken to Dover on Monday as a Tory MP described Border Force as ‘little more than a taxi service for illegal migrants’.

Border Force officials were seen bringing groups of people believed to be migrants to Dover, Kent, on Monday following an extremely busy week in English Channel crossings.

Migrant children wrapped in lifejackets have been arriving in Dover after crossing the Channel on Monday, as local children’s services say they are at breaking point.

Pictures showed a young boy with bare feet was seen being helped ashore after making the perilous 21-mile journey across the water.

Today’s arrivals in Dover come as Conservative Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh described Border Force as ‘little more than a taxi service for illegal migrants’.

More migrants were picked up by officials and taken to Dover on Monday (pictured) as a Tory MP described Border Force as ‘little more than a taxi service for illegal migrants’

Groups of people who appeared to be migrants were seen being taken to Dover, Kent, following an extremely busy week in English Channel crossings

Groups of people who appeared to be migrants were seen being taken to Dover, Kent, following an extremely busy week in English Channel crossings

Asking in the Commons what the Home Office is doing to tackle people smuggling, Sir Edward said: ‘Does the minister recognise the public anger at us being made fools of with this? Border Force is little more than a taxi service for illegal migrants, it’s ridiculous.

‘So will the minister assure me that he will use his powers under the 1971 Immigration Act to arrest all illegal immigrants, put them in detention, prosecute them, imprison them and deport them so that we can stop this horrible trade dead in its tracks?’

Responding Home Office minister Chris Philp said: I completely share [Sir Edward’s] anger at this situation and the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister does as well.

‘As I say we are actively prosecuting the facilitators and in the forthcoming Sovereign Borders Bill as part of the new plan for immigration we plan to significantly strengthen the section 24 illegal entry offence that he refers to in the 1971 act to make it easier to use and easier to implement in practice.

‘And at the same time we’re going to be increasing the sentence for illegal entry and the sentence for facilitation under section 25 of that same act.’

Meanwhile, Kent County Council has threatened legal action against the Home Secretary, saying it faces extreme pressure on its services for unaccompanied child migrants. 

The council is threatening Priti Patel with legal action in a row about what happens to unaccompanied children who arrive in the town seeking asylum.

Migrant children have been arriving in Dover after crossing the Channel on Monday, as local children's services say they are at breaking point

Migrant children have been arriving in Dover after crossing the Channel on Monday, as local children’s services say they are at breaking point

Border Force officials were seen towing two boats as groups of migrants were seen being taken to Dover, Kent, following an extremely busy week in English Channel crossings

Border Force officials were seen towing two boats as groups of migrants were seen being taken to Dover, Kent, following an extremely busy week in English Channel crossings

One young boy wrapped in a lifejacket was seen holding hands with his father as they both stepped off the boat at Dover and were greeted by Border Force officials

One young boy wrapped in a lifejacket was seen holding hands with his father as they both stepped off the boat at Dover and were greeted by Border Force officials

Migrants crossing the Channel in small boats 

  • January 2020 – 87
  • February 2020 – 192
  • March 2020 – 187
  • April 2020 – 530
  • May 2020 – 741
  • June 2020 – 702
  • July 2020 – 1118
  • August 2020 – 1,468
  • September 2020 – 1,954
  • October 2020 – 463
  • November 2020 – 757
  • December 2020 – 211
  • January 2021 – 223
  • February 2021 – 308
  • March 2021 – 831
  • April 2021 – 746
  • May 2021 – 1,619

The authority said it may no longer be able to accept new unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) within days – a situation which came to pass in August 2020.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: ‘We recognise the longstanding role that Kent County Council has played in supporting unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and are extremely grateful for their contribution.

‘We continue to encourage more areas to join the National Transfer Scheme and do their part.’

The proposed judicial review asks Ms Patel to use existing powers to direct local authorities other than Kent to receive their fair share of UASCs.

Clare Moseley, founder of migrant charity Care4Calais, said: ‘These children are completely alone and incredibly vulnerable.

‘They have arrived in the UK after making a dangerous journey that would terrify most adults.

‘The Government has a duty of care but once again it appears that legal action is the only way to make the Home Secretary to recognise this.’

The dangerous sea journey from France – made by more than 3,000 people including children so far in 2021 – has claimed many lives in the past.

On Monday, police confirmed that the body of a baby found on a Norwegian beach is that of a Kurdish-Iranian boy who went missing in the English Channel last year.

Fifteen-month-old Artin was onboard an overcrowded migrant boat heading for the UK with his parents and two siblings when it capsized, claiming all five of their lives.

His parents Rasoul Iran-Nejad and his wife Shiva Mohammad Panahi, died along with their other two children when their boat capsized on October 27, 2020. 

Pictures showed young children wrapped in wooly hats and jackets with bare feet being escorted at Dover after making the perilous 21-mile journey across the water

Pictures showed young children wrapped in wooly hats and jackets with bare feet being escorted at Dover after making the perilous 21-mile journey across the water

Today's arrivals in Dover (pictured: one family arriving in Border Force boat) come as Conservative Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh described Border Force as 'little more than a taxi service for illegal migrants'

Today’s arrivals in Dover (pictured: one family arriving in Border Force boat) come as Conservative Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh described Border Force as ‘little more than a taxi service for illegal migrants’

The number who have crossed so far this year currently stands at 4,521, with over 1,000 of those individuals making the journey in the last week alone

The number who have crossed so far this year currently stands at 4,521, with over 1,000 of those individuals making the journey in the last week alone

Artin was reported missing following the tragedy and it was not until Monday that police confirmed that a body found on the Norwegian coast was that of the young boy.

His body is set to be returned to his family in his home country of Iran, Norwegian police said.

Artin’s family had sold their house before leaving Iran and paid £14,000 to get on to the boat, with a further £8,200 supposed to be due when they arrived safely in the UK.

Ms Patel said at the time that the deaths were ‘an ultimate tragedy’ and one that ‘could have been avoided’.

Yesterday, Border Force officers detained 89 migrants in four separate incidents as they intercepted four boats trying to reach the UK in small boats across the English Channel.

It takes the number who have crossed so far this year to 4,521, with over 1,000 of those individuals making the journey in the last week alone. 

French authorities stopped a further 28 people in one boat from making the treacherous crossing, according to the Home Office.  

The busy week for Border Force began the Friday before last, May 28, when 336 migrants arrived in 19 boats – the highest daily figure recorded so far this year.

A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘Criminal gangs are putting profits before people’s lives through these dangerous and unnecessary crossings.

‘More than 4,000 people have been prevented from making the dangerous crossing so far this year and we are cracking down on the despicable criminal gangs behind people smuggling.

‘Inaction is not an option whilst people are dying. The Government is bringing legislation forward through our New Plan for Immigration which will break the business model of these heinous people smuggling networks and save lives.’

Another 83 migrants crossed the Channel in four small boats on Friday making last week the busiest week for migrant crossings with more than 1,000 people attempting to reach the Kent and Sussex coast from France.  

Border Force officials bring a boat filled with people, believed to be migrants, wearing life jackets and face masks into Dover, Kent, on Monday

Border Force officials bring a boat filled with people, believed to be migrants, wearing life jackets and face masks into Dover, Kent, on Monday

Meanwhile, Kent County Council has threatened legal action against the Home Secretary, saying it faces extreme pressure on its services for unaccompanied child migrants. Pictured: child is carried by Border Force official

Child migrant is escorted at Dover by Border Force Official

Meanwhile, Kent County Council has threatened legal action against the Home Secretary, saying it faces extreme pressure on its services for unaccompanied child migrants. Pictured left and right: Child is accompanied by a Border Force official

Another 83 migrants crossed the Channel in four small boats on Friday making last week the busiest week for migrant crossings. Pictured: A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover on Sunday

Another 83 migrants crossed the Channel in four small boats on Friday making last week the busiest week for migrant crossings. Pictured: A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover on Sunday

Almost a quarter of the migrants who have crossed the Channel by small boat this year made the dangerous journey last week

A total of 1,058 people arrived in the seven day period between May 28 and June 3, in 50 boats, according to official Home Office figures.

That is 24.3 per cent of the 4,349 who have embarked on the perilous trip in 218 boats throughout 2021 so far.

The busy week for Border Force began the Friday before last, May 28, when 336 migrants arrived in 19 boats setting a new daily record for the year.

They were followed by 144 in seven vessels on Saturday, May 29, 17 in one crossing on Sunday May 30, and 71 migrants in three boats on Monday May 31, completing a hectic Bank Holiday.

And that continued in the first three days of June, which saw 490 arrive in 12 boats.

It includes 132 in six boats on Tuesday June 1 and 157 more in a further six vessels on Wednesday June 2, and 201 migrants made the perilous journey in eight boats earlier on Thursday June 3.

On Friday the French intercepted eight crossings preventing 130 people from reaching the UK.

Sea fog has prevented crossings on Saturday and today.

It comes as Kent County Council warned it may not be able to accept unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) who arrive on the Kent coast saying the service has reached ‘breaking point for the second time in under a year’

The council says it may no longer be able to accept new UASC arrivals within days.

In a statement released today they said: ‘KCC continues to urge a strong and mandatory National Transfer Scheme and has served a formal Letter Before Action to the Home Office.

‘Following last year’s crisis, which saw vastly increased UASC numbers arriving in small boats in Kent, the Home Office and Department for Education promised to reform national systems so that Kent services would not be put under the same unreasonable strain this year.

‘In the intervening nine months, although the council welcomed government support in the transfer of some UASC out of Kent, assistance with age assessments and additional funding the substantive changes needed to the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) to prevent a repeat have not been made, and once again Kent services are at risk of being overwhelmed by the number of new UASC arrivals by boat, which already stands at 60 more children than at the same time last year.

‘Kent currently has nearly double the number of UASC children in care the government says it is safe to have.

‘KCC has now taken the first steps in legal proceedings to implement a long-term solution that will prevent this crisis from occurring again.

‘The proposed Judicial Review asks the Home Secretary to use her existing powers to direct local authorities other than Kent to receive their fair share of UASC. It refers to the ‘refusal and/or continuing failure by the Home Secretary to exercise her powers to prepare a mandatory scheme to transfer some of the functions of KCC in respect of its responsibility to UASC’s to other local authorities in England, and to direct other local authorities in England to comply with that scheme.’

The Director of Children’s Services has advised the Leader that the current pace of arrivals and strain on care services is likely to mean he will no longer be able to safely accept any further new UASC arrivals in Kent before the end of this week.

The annual total of Channel migrants arriving in the UK this year is expected to exceed the 8,400 who made the journey in 2020

The annual total of Channel migrants arriving in the UK this year is expected to exceed the 8,400 who made the journey in 2020 

KCC says Border Forces will then be asked to place new arrivals directly into other local authorities around the country from the port, as they did for three months last year.

How many migrants have arrived in recent days?

The number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats over each day of last week is:

  • Sunday June 6: 89
  • Saturday June 5: 0
  • Friday June 4: 130
  • Thursday June 3: 201
  • Wednesday June 2: 157 
  • Tuesday June 1: 132  
  • Monday May 31: 71  
  • Sunday May 30: 17
  • Saturday May 29: 144  
  • Friday May 28: 336 (busiest day of the year so far) 

TOTAL: 1,277 (approximate figure, from Friday May 28 to Sunday June 6

Roger Gough said: ‘I am deeply saddened that we are now seeing a repeat of the same crisis of 9 months ago.

‘While there have been a number of welcome measures from government – to the benefit of the Kent council taxpayer – we have not seen what is most needed: a robust National Transfer Scheme that prevents port authorities such as Kent coming under unmanageable pressure. Over this last year we have argued consistently and repeatedly that this must be done through a mandatory system.

‘The Home Office consulted on changes to the National Transfer Scheme (NTS) in August and September last year and have yet to publish any new proposals or a response to the consultation. The scheme remains voluntary with insufficient incentive for other UK Local Authorities to transfer UASC from Kent.

‘Kent residents deserve a resolution to this issue. We still do not have one. The wholly disproportionate strain on Kent’s Children’s Services continues to be overlooked.

‘We must ensure that all UK local authorities with capacity share in the support of these children.

‘Enough is enough. A robust, long-term solution is well overdue and critical for the future welfare of all children supported by KCC, whatever their background, and the continuation of the excellent services that support them.’

Between 1 January and 1 June this year 242 UASC have arrived on Kent shores and been passed to Kent Children’s Services.

Of these, only 52 have been transferred to other local authorities under the voluntary NTS. The current scheme does not keep pace with the rate of arrivals and the burden on Kent becomes unsustainable.

KCC says this remains a small problem to solve for the nation, but a huge problem for Kent in the meantime.

They warned: ‘In the absence of any substantive Home Office response to the council’s proposal by June 17, KCC will proceed to issue a claim for Judicial Review against the Home Secretary.’ 

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