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Home Office resumed responsibility for tackling Channel migrant crisis


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.

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 journey on Sunday.

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. 

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 English soil.