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Over 200 migrants attempt Channel crossing in a single day
5 July 2021, 07:38 | Updated: 5 July 2021, 08:12
More than 200 migrants were intercepted crossing the English Channel on Sunday, after the British government revealed plans for tougher penalties for those trying to get across.
Border Force officials intervened in six incidents on Sunday, which involved 212 people, the Home Office confirmed.
A further 238 people were prevented from entering the UK by French officials, across seven incidents.
This came after it was announced by the UK government that heavier prison sentences would be put in place for migrants attempting to cross the channel on small boats.
The stricter enforcements were announced early on Sunday, as part of the Nationality and Borders Bill. It will have its first reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday.
The proposed legislation would make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, with the maximum sentence rising from six months' imprisonment to four years.
There are also plans to increase the tariff for people-smugglers behind the crossings, meaning those found guilty would face life behind bars - up from the current maximum of 14 years.
A clause in the bill also means that arriving unlawfully will include arrival as well as entrance into the country.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "The Nationality and Borders Bill contains vital measures to fix the UK's broken asylum system.
"Our new plan for immigration is fair but firm.
"We will welcome people through safe and legal routes whilst preventing abuse of the system, cracking down on illegal entry and the criminality associated with it."
Almost 6,000 migrants made the journey across the channel to the UK in the first six months of 2021.
The total number for 2020 was 8,417, which could be eclipsed within two more months of 2021 if similar figures occur across July and August.
Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O'Mahoney said joint work with French authorities was helping stop the illegal crossings and arrest gangs responsible.
"We are seeing an unacceptable rise in dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossings because illegal migration across Europe has led to a significant increase of migrants in northern France seeking to enter the UK illegally," he said.
"The government continues to target the criminal gangs who are responsible for these illegal crossings at every level with intelligence and surveillance, and the joint work with France means we have doubled the number of police officers on the ground in France who are intercepting the crossings and arresting the gangs behind this trade."