Kent

Baby among migrants found crossing English Channel

Border Force returning to Folkestone Image copyright Susan Pilcher
Image caption Border Force vessels were involved in the operations to bring migrants ashore over the last three days

A boat carrying 13 migrants including a baby has been found in the English Channel off the Kent coast.

The 10 adults and three children were given medical checks and transferred to immigration officials for interview, the Home Office said.

News of their arrival in Dover was revealed by Kent's chief constable during a select-committee appearance.

He said some migrants were now calling police from their boats, confident they would be allowed to stay in the UK.

"They want to be found and helped," chief constable Alan Pughsley told MPs.

The latest group of migrants, who according to the Home Office said they were from Iraq and Iran, were intercepted on their small boat by Border Force after staff were alerted by French officials at about 03:00 GMT.

Image caption Two more boats containing migrants were brought into Dover harbour on Monday

More than 30 people, mainly from Iraq, have arrived on the Kent coast since Saturday, taking the overall total since 3 November to more than 350.

At the Home Affairs Select Committee, Steve Rodhouse, director-general of operations at the National Crime Agency, told MPs there had been a "significant" change in approach from migrants looking to get into the UK.

He said: "Typically, in the past, if people had been using what we call general maritime, they would be doing so in a clandestine fashion.

"What we see... today is markedly different because the business model is essentially for the migrants to reach the point where they can engage with UK authorities, whether that be on land or at sea, and claim asylum at that point."

Mr Rodhouse said on average they were paying £5,000 to "facilitators", adding: "People are actively seeking being caught or engaging with UK authorities because rightly or wrongly, they don't fear being returned.

"That, I think, is something that is a significant player in the issue here. I know that Home Office colleagues... will say there have been a number of returns."

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