New daily record sees migrant Channel crossings pass 10,000 this year

5 August 2021, 11:42 | Updated: 5 August 2021, 21:20

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A new record number of people in small boats crossed the English Channel yesterday with at least 482 migrants on 21 boats succeeding in making the journey over the day.

This latest figure brings the total number of people who have now made the dangerous journey across the English Channel in small boats to 10,000 this year.

Crossings in 2021 - which already eclipsed last year's annual total last month - have resumed in recent days following a period of bad weather.

A group of migrants pictured yesterday landing near Dungeness power station
A group of migrants pictured yesterday landing near Dungeness power station. Picture: @hutton_mandy/Twitter
Onlooker Mandy Hutton posted online: "Nice day out at the beach"
Onlooker Mandy Hutton posted online: "Nice day out at the beach". Picture: @hutton_mandy/Twitter

Data shows that the tally for this year now stands at more than 10,200 people, despite the dangers involved in the journey.

Wednesday's 482 arrivals - confirmed by the Home Office on Thursday morning - surpass the previous daily high of 430 set on July 19 2021.

Despite this, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

A large group of migrants was seen landing near Dungeness in Kent
A large group of migrants was seen landing near Dungeness in Kent. Picture: @hutton_mandy/Twitter

At least 50,989 people have arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea so far this year, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

At least 1,016 people are estimated to be dead or missing, according to the same data.

Home Secretary Priti Patel and her department have repeatedly vowed to make the Channel route "unviable", but crossings have continued to rise.

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, said: "Overall asylum applications are dropping and much lower than they were in the 2000s, but the number of high Channel crossings shows that desperate people trying to save their lives will risk everything to reach safety.

"MPs need to act swiftly and should pass legislation to allow those with strong prospects of receiving protection here safe passage to the UK from northern France to seek asylum here."

Dan O'Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander for the Home Office, said: "These dangerous small boat crossings, facilitated by criminal gangs, are putting lives at risk."

He said the numbers are "unacceptable" and claimed that the Government's controversial New Plan for Immigration is the "only credible long term plan to fix the broken asylum system".

Last month, Ms Patel announced an agreement to more than double the number of police patrolling French beaches, with the Government to give France £54 million.

This week, she met members of the Greek government to discuss "shared challenges on illegal migration".

The two-day official visit saw the Home Secretary meet ministers in Athens before going out on patrol with the Hellenic coastguard off the island of Samos to learn more about the methods used to prevent small boat crossings.