Author: Sam Lennon
Seven more migrants have been found trying to reach Britain via Dover today.
This is the sixth incident in eight days and has now involved a total 54 people.
Five out of these six attempts have involved using small boats and dinghies.
A migrant charity believes this is because there is stricter security at ports with more vigilance for the usual of arriving in the backs of lorries.
The latest group was found on the beach this morning and a Home Office spokesman said: “Border Force was contacted by HM Coastguard today after reports were received of a dinghy on the beach at Samphire Hoe, near Dover.
“Seven people were found at the scene and have been transferred to Immigration officials for interview.”
Tanya Long, director of the Dover-based migrant charity Samphire, said: “I think that as it becomes increasingly difficult to come to the UK via the traditional routes such as in the back of the lorry, due to much tighter security at the borders, I expect people are looking for other ways.
“Its a sad situation that these people are risking their lives by taking such a dangerous route across the Channel in order to reach a place of sanctuary.
“These people must be very desperate to take the decision to cross one of the busiest and dangerous waterways in the world.
“Thankfully no one has died.”
Mr Elphicke told KentOnline the number of attempts in such a short time suggested that the crossings were being organised.
He added: “We are hearing about more and more attempts to smuggle illegal immigrants into this country at beaches, inlets and small ports.
“Two cutters for the whole coastline is frankly ridiculous. We need more investment so the whole border is secure.
“To see so many brazen attempts to break into Britain in one week is unprecedented and deeply concerning.
“That people are taking the risk of crossing such a busy shipping route on small craft – some even with young children on board – shows just how desperate they are.
“The Home Office must act urgently to tackle this growing problem by boosting our borders budget and the number of vessels and skilled officers.”
Revelations of two cutters for 11,000 miles of UK coastline come from a report after border inspectors looked at immigration controls at south coast seaports.
It found that out of the UK’s fleet of five cutters – vessels built for speed to patrol large areas – two continued to be deployed in the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas in response to the migrant crisis.
Out of the three left, inspectors were told only two were operational and a third was kept on standby.
It compares to 600 cutters patrolling the Italian coastline, more than 3,000 miles shorter, and 147 covering Spanish waters, more than 4,000 miles shorter.
The report also revealed that despite purchasing eight Coastal Patrol Vessels in 2016, only two are in operation.
Two were found not to be suitable due to cramped sleeping quarters, two were being refitted with suitable accommodation at the time of the inspection, and for the final two “nothing has been agreed.”
The report also said cutters’ hours at sea dropped from 11,137 in 2015 to 9,497 last year.
Meanwhile Project Kraken, first launched in 2008 and relaunched in 2016, aimed to improve intelligence gathering from people working in the marine sector.
Yet Border Force data for the south coast showed it had received only 49 referrals in 2016/17, with only two considered “actionable”.
A previous inspection report recommended that Border Force rolled out a scheme to assess risk posed by all “known” unscheduled commercial vessels.
Yet border officers at some ports did not record the ratings. At one, unnamed for security reasons, less than 1% (19 of 3,032) commercial vessels which arrived were actually met by Border Force officers.
Mr Elphicke added “We need to see greater investment in securing our borders – and clear plan to tackle the number of small craft landing on our shores.
“Otherwise evil people traffickers will continue to exploit the situation and more and more people will break into Britain.”
Over the last week there have been five other attempts to reach Britain via Dover, involving a total 47 people.
Overnight on Thursday and Friday last week seven migrants in a small dinghy were found in a small dinghy near Dover.
They said they were Iranian.
HM Coastguard and the RNLI intercepted the boat, a Border Force vessels arrived and the group were taken for interview by immigration officials.
On Tuesday morning 14 men with three children tried to land a fishing boat at Dover Harbour before being stopped.
Border Force officials, helped by the port authority and coastguards, boarded the vessel.
They said they were all Iranian.
The adults were dealt with by the Home Office and the children referred to social services.
That same day, at about 2.50pm seven men were found hiding in a lorry that arrived in Dover from Calais.
They were found by Port of Dover Police after a search of the vehicle.
Three said they were Iranian, four said they were Iraqi.
One Iranian was taken to hospital and the other six men were referred to immigration officials for interview.
On Wednesday, just before 5am, nine people were found in a dinghy near Dover.
A Border Force vessel, with the RNLI and HM Coastguard, intercepted it and escorted it to Dover Western Docks.
Later that morning, at about 9.15am, 10 men saying they were Iranian were escorted into Dover on their fishing boat.