NINETY migrants including 15 children are caught crossing the English Channel

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A record 90 migrants were intercepted and brought to Dover in eight small boats today. 

The figure – which includes 15 minors – is the most for a single day and eclipses the 86 who arrived in one day last August. 

In the first incident off the Kent coast at 2.15am, a Border Force vessel intercepted a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) carrying five West African men from Senegal, Mali and Guinea.

In another incident around the same time, 21 men who said they were Syrian, Yemeni and Egyptian were also picked up on a RHIB. 

All 26 migrants were taken to Dover, where they were medically assessed before being taken for questioning by immigration officials. 

Later, at around 7.40am, a group of 12 men and women were intercepted by a cutter and said they were Iranian and Iraqi. 

In the fourth incident around the same time, 16 Iraqi and Iranian men were picked up on a boat. 

An hour later, Border Force officers caught a group of 12 people whose nationalities have not yet been established. 

Five more were detained at Shakespeare Beach and Samphire Hoe Beach, Dover, around 9.20am. They said they were Yemeni and Iraqi. 

An hour after that, an RNLI lifeboat picked up an inflatable boat carrying 12 men and two women who said they were Iranian and Iraqi. 

Finally, five suspected illegal immigrants were detained by police in Dover town centre at around 11.20am. 

Almost 1,900 migrants – a record number – arrived in Britain on small boats last year. 

The Home Office said: ‘All those found, apart from the group detained by Kent Police, were taken to Dover where they were medically assessed before being transferred to immigration officials to be interviewed. 

‘A total of 15 people from today’s eight incidents claimed to be minors and, subject to age assessment, will be transferred into the care of social services. 

‘The cases of all 90 people found today will be dealt with according to the immigration rules.’ 

Four young children were seen being escorted by immigration officials at the port this morning – including one aged around four or five who was holding hands with an adult. 

Another child was seen carrying a doll after making it ashore. 

A large red inflatable boat some of the migrants are thought to have crossed in was seen with a smaller dinghy inside it this morning. 

A group of men migrants wrapped in grey blankets were spotted at the Port of Dover around 7.15am. 

Red jerry cans and life jackets were left in a boat that had been abandoned on the nearby Samphire Hoe Beach, while rubber boots and clothes were left on a nearby pathway. 

A bearded migrant using a crutch and wearing a hoodie, jeans and waterproof jacket was pictured with a Coastguard worker.  

Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, insists more must be done after the latest crossings – which happened less than a week after Brexit Day. 

She said: ‘It is essential that we put a stop to this appalling trafficking trade and protect vulnerable people from making these dangerous crossings. 

‘A fresh approach is needed, so wherever boats are picked up in the English Channel they are returned safely and securely to France. 

‘We already have territorial agreements for border controls and these should be extended. It’s in France’s interest too – because they don’t want Calais to become a migrant magnet again. 

‘Today’s crossings demonstrate why talks on this should progress immediately.’ 

Tony Eastaugh, the Home Office’s director for crime and enforcement, said: ‘We are tackling illegal migrant crossings on all fronts with every agency including Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, NCA (National Crime Agency) and policing teams working in tandem with the French and Belgian authorities. 

‘We have extra patrols on French beaches, drones, specialist vehicles and detection equipment which has been deployed to stop small boats leaving European shores. 

‘And it’s working. Last year one hundred people smugglers were convicted for a total of 320 years.’  

Since January 2019, more than 135 migrants who entered the UK illegally via small boats have been returned to Europe. 

It comes after nearly 200 migrants risked their lives to try and cross the English Channel in just one week last month.

At least 180 migrants tried to cross from the continent to Britain between January 20 and January 26, according to figures from UK and French authorities.

This is despite repeated warnings about the dangers of making the trip in a small boat.

More crossings over January 25 and 26 brought the total number of migrants picked up by Border Force and brought to the UK in seven days to at least 94.

On Saturday 25 January a Border Force vessel was alerted about 5.30am to a boat entering UK waters which was carrying a group of 26 males and two females who have presented themselves as Pakistani, Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian nationals.

The group was taken to Dover in Kent, where they were to be medically assessed, before being interviewed by immigration officials.

The English Channel is the world’s busiest shipping lane, with 500-600 ships passing through the narrow strait every day.

Last August saw a record 86 migrants arrive in one day – during a year in which around 1,900 asylum seekers reach Britain. 

On New Year’s Day it was revealed that 1,900 migrants reached UK soil after crossing the Channel during the year.

However more than 2,300 were blocked in the Channel as they tried to get to Britain illegally in 231 small boats laid on by people smugglers.

Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, has today insisted more must be done after the latest crossings – which happened less than a week after Brexit Day.

She said: ‘It is essential that we put a stop to this appalling trafficking trade and protect vulnerable people from making these dangerous crossings.

‘A fresh approach is needed, so wherever boats are picked up in the English Channel they are returned safely and securely to France.

‘We already have territorial agreements for border controls and these should be extended. It’s in France’s interest too – because they don’t want Calais to become a migrant magnet again.

‘Today’s crossings demonstrate why talks on this should progress immediately.’

A Coastguard spokeswoman said today: ‘HM Coastguard is coordinating a search and rescue response to a number of incidents off Kent this morning, working with Border Force, Kent Police and other partners.

‘Border Force vessels Searcher, Speedwell and Alert have been sent, along with RNLI lifeboats from Dover and Littlestone, a fixed wing aircraft and an HM Coastguard Search and Rescue Helicopter from Lydd.

‘HM Coastguard is only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.’

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