Kent

Channel migrants: Four boats intercepted crossing Channel

Border Force returning to Folkestone Image copyright Susan Pilcher
Image caption Border Force vessels were sent to intercept three of the boats in the Channel

Sixty-three migrants were brought to Dover after trying to cross the English Channel in four dinghies.

Three boats were met by Border Force and a fourth was intercepted by French authorities.

A fifth boat, carrying nine people, was rescued and returned to France after being spotted by a cross-Channel ferry in the entrance to the Port of Calais.

All of those brought to the UK will be monitored for signs of Covid-19, the Home Office said.

Concerns have been raised about the spread of coronavirus in makeshift migrant camps in northern France.

Border Force officers have been provided with personal protective equipment, the Home Office said.

Nine people were rescued off the coast off Calais when their stranded dinghy was spotted by P&O's Pride of Kent as it left the port, the French Prefecture Maritime said.

Tony Eastaugh, Home Office director for crime and enforcement, said authorities on both sides of the Channel were working together to stop the crossings, which were being "facilitated by criminals".

He said that "110 people smugglers have been convicted and imprisoned and over 155 people who arrived on small boats have been returned" since January 2019.

In that time, at least 2,400 people have crossed the Channel, according to BBC research.

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