Channel migrants: French police stop 14 at port

French police Image copyright Reuters

French police say they have stopped 14 migrants from crossing the Channel on a stolen fishing trawler after they were found in the port of Boulogne.

A local prosecutor told AFP that police were called when "those seeking to help them on their way" were seen breaking into a boat on the French coast.

The migrants, including a mother and two children, said they came from Iraq.

The authorities are still looking for two people they suspect of being people smugglers.

It comes days after UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a major incident in the Channel due to the rising number of migrants attempting to cross in small boats.

He said around 230 people tried to cross in December, but half of them were "disrupted" by French officials and did not leave France.

The total number of migrants to have reached the UK by boat since November stands at 239 after 12 migrants - including a 10-year-old boy - were found in Greatstone, Kent, on Monday, having travelled by dinghy.

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Mr Javid has agreed a joint action plan with French authorities to tackle the issue.

He announced on Monday that two more Border Force vessels would be brought back from operations in the Mediterranean to help patrol the Channel - joining the one that had already been deployed.

"It's both about protecting human life but also about protecting our borders", he said.

But Mr Javid was criticised by UK shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who accused him of exploiting the problem.

She told the Guardian: "There's no question that, with Brexit and also with the approach of the meaningful vote in January, people are being whipped up about migration issues, because the government thinks this is the best way of frightening people to vote for their deal."