Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Record number of migrants reach UK on day Priti Patel announces new approach to deal with English Channel crossings

It comes as number of people trying to make crossing from France has surged in lockdown

Zoe Tidman
Monday 13 July 2020 11:47 BST
UK and France agree to make intelligence cell to tackle migrant crossings

A new daily record has been set for the number of migrants to reach the UK after crossing the English Channel, according to figures released this morning.

At least 180 people made the dangerous journey on Sunday – the same day Priti Patel announced a “new operational approach” to deal with small boat crossings.

The British home secretary and France’s new interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, have agreed to create a new intelligence-sharing unit, both politicians announced at the weekend.

The estimated 180 people who reached the UK on Sunday were among 380 migrants who attempted to cross the Channel that day, the Home Office said on Monday morning.

More than 200 people were intercepted by French authorities and prevented from reaching the UK.

While a huge search and rescue operation was launched in the English Channel to deal with “a number of incidents” off the UK coast, Ms Patel was in Calais for talks with her newly appointed French counterpart.

She hailed the agreement – the full details of which have not yet been made public – as a “new operational approach”.

It comes as the numbers of migrants trying to make the treacherous crossing have surged during lockdown, with some taking on the journey in kayaks and even a paddling pool.

Sunday’s figures bring the total number of migrants who have managed to cross the Channel to the UK this year to more than 2,500.

Ms Patel and Mr Darmanin stressed their “shared commitment to returning boats in the Channel to France, rather than allowing them to reach the UK” as they signed an agreement to create the new intelligence unit on Sunday.

Criticising the move, Care4Calais, a refugee charity, said: “They want to show they can eradicate the migrant ‘problem’ in the area. But these are people, not a ‘problem’, and the dire circumstances that brought them here are much worse than any political inconvenience.”

Announcing the new agreement on Sunday, Ms Patel said: “Despite all of the action taken by law enforcement to date – intercepting the boats, making arrests, returning people to France and putting the criminals responsible behind bars – the numbers continue to increase.

“This simply cannot be allowed to go on. Today, I have signed an agreement with the French to create a joint intelligence cell, which will crack down on the gangs behind this vile people-smuggling operation, and impressed on my French counterpart the need to stop these illegal crossings for the benefit of both our countries.

It is not clear if the new agreement includes measures to return migrants picked up in UK waters to France.

Additional reporting by Press Association

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in