Another 200 migrants make journey across Channel over the weekend in first arrivals since Home Office resumed responsibility for tackling crisis after eight months of Royal Navy control
- Saturday saw a total of 218 asylum seekers intercepted at sea by Border Force
- Royal Navy has now handed over control of migrant arrivals to the Home Office
- Read more: Border Force intercepted first 44 migrants to cross Channel in 2023
More than 200 migrants arrived in the UK over the weekend for the first time since the Home Office resumed responsibility for tackling the crisis.
The Royal Navy has been in control of migrant arrivals to the country for eight months but last week the Home Office took back control.
Saturday saw a total of 218 asylum seekers intercepted at sea by Border Force vessels.
The first arrivals – who were wrapped in blue blankets after battling cold conditions in the Channel – were brought to shore in Dover, Kent at around 6am.
Dozens more migrants made the treacherous journey across the 21-mile Dover Straits throughout the afternoon.
The Royal Navy has been in control of migrant arrivals to the country for eight months but last week the Home Office took back control. File image
Saturday saw a total of 218 asylum seekers intercepted at sea by Border Force vessels. File image
A further two, mostly-male, groups reached the UK shortly before 4pm. A few women and children were among those being helped off the vessel by Border Force officials.
According to official Home Office figures, 44 migrants made the perilous journey on Sunday.
The latest arrivals were the first to reach the UK since the Home Office unveiled its new bolstered response to curb migrant crossings on January 31.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said government failure to stop the boats could threaten the Conservative party at the next election.
The move follows the creation announced last month of the new small boats operational command (SBOC), bringing together military and civilian staff and the National Crime Agency to co-ordinate the Government’s response.
The Home Office said the SBOC – which uses drones, boats and land-based radar and cameras to track and disrupt people traffickers – will be bolstered with the recruitment of 730 additional staff.
According to the Home Office, the SBOC will track vessels on the water, identify pilots and help to bring those responsible for organising crossings to justice.
Pictured: Migrants picked up at sea while attempting to cross the English Channel, arrive at the port on UK Border Force cutter ‘BF Defender’ in Dover on January 2
The latest arrivals were the first to reach the UK since the Prime Minister (pictured) and the Home Office unveiled the new bolstered response to curb migrant crossings on January 31
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Then prime minister Boris Johnson originally handed leadership for operations in the Channel to the Navy as a temporary measure last April but migrants continued to arrive in record numbers.
A Government spokesman said the return of responsibility to the Home Office was a ‘significant landmark’ in the long term to ensure the safety and sovereignty of the UK’s borders and communities.
‘Last year we saw an unsustainable and unacceptable number of people risking their lives to reach the UK illegally.
‘This simply cannot continue and that is why we are taking immediate steps to tackle the evil people-smuggling gangs behind these deadly crossings and get our immigration system under control.
‘The return of Channel primacy to the Home Office, bolstered by 730 extra staff and led by director Duncan Capps, is a significant landmark in our long-term plan to ensure the safety and sovereignty of our borders and our communities.
‘We are building on the progress already made through the new deal with France, and our determination will not waiver until we stop the abuse of the asylum system and bring the smugglers responsible to justice.’
The Ministry of Defence will still provide support to the operational command unit but will have less control.
This weekend’s arrivals bring the total for 2023 so far to 1,442 in 32 boats – an average of 45 people per vessel.
A total of 1,180 people crossed the Channel last month alone, with the busiest day being January 22 when 442 asylum seekers landed on British soil.
Some 1,339 made the journey in the first month of 2022, when a record 45,728 people arrived in the UK in 1,104 boats – dwarfing 2021’s total of 28,526.
And officials have predicted the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats could double this year – potentially reaching 80,000 in 2023.
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