02 May 2024

Channel crossings: Busiest day of the year so far sees 711 migrants arrive in UK

02 May 2024

More than 700 migrants arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in a single day – a new record for the year so far.

The Home Office said 711 people made the journey in 14 boats on Wednesday, suggesting an average of 51 people per boat.

It takes the provisional total for the number of arrivals this year so far to 8,278.

Meanwhile, police were called after a large group of protesters blocked a coach believed to be set to take asylum seekers from a hotel in Peckham, south east London, to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset.

Pictures showed police officers surrounding the coach – which had a flat tyre – and removing several protesters while others joining the demonstration sat in the road.

The Home Office abandoned plans to move a separate group of asylum seekers to the Bibby barge in the wake of protests in Margate last week.

Channel crossings had already hit a new record high for the first four months of a calendar year, and the latest figures show they have now jumped 34% on 2023 when 6,192 were recorded and are up 19% on the total at this stage in 2022 (6,945).

Last year 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

Since the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act became law after receiving Royal Assent on Thursday last week, 1,611 migrants have made the journey in 32 boats.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the number of migrants crossing the Channel was “unacceptable,” adding: “That is exactly why we need to get flights off the ground to Rwanda to provide the effective deterrent such that people know if they arrive here illegally they won’t be able to stay here.”

Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said “this can’t go on”, adding: “For all the government’s fanfare, we know the unaffordable and unworkable Rwanda plan won’t fix this chaos. It is costing half a billion pounds and will only cover a few hundred people a year, less than half of those who arrived on a single day this week.”

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said a third man had been charged with an immigration offence after five migrants died trying to cross the Channel last week and was due to appear in court.

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