Drone footage shows dozens of migrant dinghies stacked inside the Dover compound
Dozens of assorted dinghies used by migrants to make the perilous journey across the English Channel are stored in Dover.
Rone footage shows more than 100 small boats crammed into rows in a fenced complex – evidence of possibly thousands of trips by people to the UK in 2021.
This year has seen a record number of migrants crossing into the UK despite wishes from the Home Office to make the route “unviable”.
Border Force was active again in the Strait of Dover on Tuesday, but stronger winds were expected to make crossings difficult.
More than 9,000 people have crossed the English Channel so far this year in small boats, despite the dangerous journey that has taken lives in the past.
So far in July, more than 3,300 people have arrived in the UK in a new record for a single month, according to analysis of the data by the PA news agency.
Government officials fear the high number of crossings could continue over the summer, with small boat arrivals this year having already exceeded the total for the whole of 2020.
Despite this, the UK continues to see fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.
At least 44,230 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea since the start of the year, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In recent months, law enforcement has noticed that gangs organized behind Channel crossings are becoming increasingly sophisticated, launching boats from a wider area of France’s northern coast.
They will also send ships in waves – smaller boats sent first to immobilize French authorities, while other craft carrying larger numbers of migrants will make the crossing later in the day.
Officials were alarmed by the overcrowding of the ships – one boat last week had 83 people on board – and the security conditions.
They encountered inflatable boats held together with duct tape and migrants with rubber rings or bicycle tire inner tubes rather than life jackets.
Home Secretary Priti Patel announced a deal last week to more than double the number of police patrolling French beaches, with the government giving France £54million.
But, while efforts to resolve the problem have been stepped up by Emmanuel Macron’s government – with around 2,700 people brought back to France so far this year after being intercepted at sea – there is still some frustration at the Ministry of the Interior about French politics.
French authorities will not intercept migrants who resist rescue, but the UK has a different interpretation of the law.
British offers to help board ships in French waters have so far been rebuffed by Paris, it is believed.
The Home Secretary told MPs last week that she had made her views on the situation “ample clear” to her French counterpart.
The UK is also helping to fund aerial surveillance along the French coast, but legal difficulties in France have meant that drones are not used as much as had been hoped.
Officials acknowledge that there is no silver bullet to deal with the situation, but they have been in touch with their Australian and Greek counterparts to discuss how those countries are coping with the situations off their coasts. .