Record 482 people succeed in crossing Dover Straight on 21 boats
More than 10,000 people have now made the life-threatening journey across the English Channel in small boats this year after a new daily record for crossings was set.
At least 482 people succeeded in crossing the Dover Strait on Wednesday on board 21 boats – the highest number yet on a single day.
Crossings in 2021 – which already eclipsed last year’s annual total last month – have resumed in recent days following a period of bad weather.
Data compiled by PA news agency shows the tally for this year now stands at more than 10,200 people, despite the dangers involved in the journey.
Wednesday’s 482 arrivals – confirmed by the Home Office on Thursday morning – surpass the previous daily high of 430 set on 19 July 2021.
Despite this, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.
At least 50,989 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
At least 1,016 people are estimated to be dead or missing, according to the same data.
Home secretary Priti Patel and her department have repeatedly vowed to make the Channel route “unviable”, but crossings have continued to rise.
Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander for the Home Office, said: “These dangerous small boat crossings, facilitated by criminal gangs, are putting lives at risk.”
He said the numbers were “unacceptable” and claimed the government’s controversial New Plan for Immigration was the “only credible long term plan to fix the broken asylum system”.
Last month, Ms Patel announced an agreement to more than double the number of police patrolling French beaches, with the government to give France £54m to facilitate the the plans.
This week, she met members of the Greek government to discuss “shared challenges on illegal migration”.
The two-day official visit saw the home secretary meet ministers in Athens before going out on patrol with the Hellenic coastguard off the island of Samos to learn more about the methods used to prevent small boat crossings.
Additional reporting by Press Association