Extra measures failing to deter small boat crossings
More than 1,000 migrants have made it across the Channel and arrived in the UK this month, despite the government bringing in extra measures to deter small boat crossings.
Home Office figures show more than 300 people made the journey at the weekend, with 112 recorded in two boats on Saturday and 276 on Sunday in five boats. This takes the provisional total for 2024 to date to 1,057.
The highest number to cross in a single day so far this year was 358 in eight boats on January 17.
With figures tracking slightly higher so far in 2024 than at the same time last year, Downing Street said there were 'variations' in the number of crossings taking place.
The provisional annual total for last year, 29,437, was 36 per cent lower than the record 45,774 crossings for the whole of 2022. But is still the second highest annual total on record, above the figure for 2021 (28,526).
Earlier this month Home Secretary James Cleverly - who has set himself a target of meeting Mr Sunak's 'stop the boats' pledge by the end of this year - insisted the weather was not a 'contributory factor' to last year's falling number of migrant crossings.
The decrease was instead because of co-operation with Europe, disrupting the supply chain of engines and boats, and 'going after the money of these people smugglers', he said.
The Government argued the figures were evidence of the UK's £480 million agreement with France to beef up efforts to stop migrants making the journey starting to pay off as well as the effectiveness of a fast-track returns deal struck with Albania.
But the Immigration Services Union, which represents border staff, said the drop in arrivals was likely to be a 'glitch', with 'higher numbers' of Channel crossings expected this year.