Migrant crossings: Another boat intercepted amid lockdown spike

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image copyrightGareth Fuller/PA Media
image captionMinister for immigration compliance Chris Philp said the recent increase in crossings was "totally unacceptable"

Another boat carrying migrants has been intercepted by the Border Force off the Kent coast following a spike in the number of incidents in recent days.

The Home Office said there were 11 men and six women on board who presented themselves as Iraqi nationals.

More than 240 people have now crossed the Channel since Friday, with a further 77 stopped by French officials.

Minister for immigration compliance Chris Philp said the recent increase in crossings was "totally unacceptable".

He said it was "sickening that smugglers are willing to put people's lives at risk, including children".

Mr Philp said the government was "stepping up action to stop the crossings, going after the criminals perpetrating these heinous crimes and prosecuting them for their criminal activity".

image copyrightGareth Fuller/PA Media
image captionAt least 227 people have crossed the English Channel since Friday

Eight boats carrying 145 people were stopped on Friday, the Home Office confirmed - a record for a single day.

Those picked up by Border Force officials said they were Iranian, Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Syrian and Afghan nationals.

Friday's total included 51 people packed on board a single inflatable boat, the Home Office said.

Of 82 people detained on Saturday, 70 were aboard inflatable boats, while 12 men were found at Dungeness on the Kent coast.

The Home Office said the migrants had "left a safe country - generally France - and where appropriate we will be seeking to return them".

Home Secretary Priti Patel has acknowledged that a recent increase in the number of migrant boats making the dangerous crossing is linked to the Covid-19 lockdown.

She has spoken to her French counterpart, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, who reaffirmed the commitment to carry out more returns at sea to stop the illegal crossings.

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