Border Force calls off search for migrant missing off Essex coast

26 October 2021, 08:57 | Updated: 26 October 2021, 22:52

Search craft have been dispatched
Search craft have been dispatched. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Border Force has called off its search and rescue mission for a migrant reported missing off the coast of Essex, after no one was found.

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The Home Office said the agency had been coordinating a search and rescue response off Harwich on Tuesday.

It followed a report that one man had entered the water.

However, agencies were unable to find the missing migrant, and the search and rescue mission has now concluded.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “This afternoon an extensive search and rescue operation for a man reported to have entered the water off the Essex coast concluded.

“We want to thank those who responded to this incident and who continue to work tirelessly to protect lives at sea whilst securing our border. 

“While the investigation into this incident continues, it is a reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats and the callous disregard for life shown by the criminal gangs.

“We are determined to do everything we can to prevent people dying in the Channel.

"The Government’s New Plan for Immigration, and ongoing work with the French Government, will help us crack down on organised criminals and reform the asylum system to deter people from attempting these deadly crossings.”

On Tuesday, UK authorities had to rescue or intercept 145 people from five crossings.

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Two migrants were rescued from a stricken vessel on Monday but three are still missing, LBC understands.

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency added: "HM Coastguard has been coordinating a search and rescue response to an incident off Essex, working with Border Force and other partners. 

"We sent the coastguard helicopter from Lydd and a coastguard fixed wing aircraft. HM Coastguard will continue to safeguard life around the seas and coastal areas of the UK, working with search and rescue resources in the area. 

"If a vessel needs search and rescue assistance, HM Coastguard will continue to respond and rescue those in danger."

The RNLI said in a statement: "RNLI lifeboats from Harwich and Walton and Frinton were involved in a search and rescue operation to a suspected person in the water.

"All have been stood down by HM Coastguard, who are continuing to coordinate the search with Border Force."

Border Force is tasked with carrying out immigration checks and customs controls for people and goods that enter the UK.

It operates a range of boats, which have been most visible recently as the agency has deployed to manage migrant crossings in the Channel.