Channel migrants ‘Major incident’

The rising number of migrants attempting to cross the Channel in small boats has been declared a “major incident” by the UK home secretary.

Sajid Javid has asked for an urgent call with his French counterpart about the situation.

The Home Office said there was “concern that it is only a matter of time before people lose their lives”.

It comes after at least 221 migrants attempted to cross the Channel to England since the start of November.

Most recently, 12 people were detainedoff the coast of Dover in the early hours of Friday morning.

In a statement, the Home Office said Mr Javid had “taken control of the response to the rising number of migrants attempting to cross the Channel in small boats”.

Mr Javid will now receive daily updates from the Home Office, and has spoken to Border Force officials, Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency in a conference call.

The Home Office added: “The home secretary has also asked for an urgent call with his French counterpart over the weekend to reaffirm the continuing need for the UK and France to work closely together to tackle the problem.

“He has also commissioned detailed options from Border Force about the provision of additional vessels in the Channel, including another Border Force cutter, and whether this is likely to encourage more people to try and make the crossing rather than act as a deterrence.”

Earlier, Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said the number of incidents over recent days was “deeply concerning” and crossing the water in a dinghy was “extremely dangerous”.

Many of the migrants are Syrian or Iranian. More than five million Syrians have left their country since its civil war started in 2011.