Migrant people smugglers change tactics as crossings surge by 40 PER CENT in 'dangerous' new phase of crisis

Migrant people smugglers change tactics as crossings surge by 40 PER CENT in 'dangerous' new phase of crisis

The number of migrants crossing the English Channel has increased by 40 per cent this year

GB News
Mark White

By Mark White

Published: 15/05/2024

- 10:53

Updated: 15/05/2024

- 15:03

Criminal gangs are now pushing out fewer boats but more often in a bid to avoid French beach patrols

The number of Channel migrants has shot up by 40 per cent this year, as GB News can reveal an apparent switch in people smuggling tactics.

Sources say criminal gangs are now pushing out fewer boats but more often in a bid to avoid French beach patrols.

It has resulted in almost a fortnight of continued low level migrant activity, when boats were launched from the French coast every day over the past 12 days.

The biggest single day of arrivals was on May 4, when five small boats brought 244 people to UK waters.

Migrants crossing the ChannelMigrants have continued to cross the ChannelGETTY

Most other days saw just two or three boats make it across to the UK.

On May 8, a single boat arrived with 36 migrants on board.

Although the numbers arriving are far smaller than the busy days Border Force encounter in calmer seas, people smugglers are now launching boats in weather conditions that would normally be seen as unsuitable by them.

One maritime source told GB News: "This apparent switch in tactics marks a dangerous new phase in cross-Channel people smuggling.

"What we've mainly seen until now is most people smuggling gangs waiting until calm conditions and then conducting mass launches of up to a dozen small boats.

"This has overwhelmed French patrols and ensured the majority of small boats make it into the water."


Migrants arriving into Britain

More than 9,500 people have crossed English Channel this year

GB News

However, the source said that any move towards pushing boats out in poor weather was "clearly very dangerous".

This year so far, 14 migrants have died in several different incidents in the Channel.

The smaller number of launches, which are taking place more frequently is still pushing up Channel migrant totals significantly.

Small boat launches every day since May 4, have resulted in a total of 1,272 people arriving in UK waters on 25 small boats.

That takes the number of Channel migrants who have crossed illegally to the UK so far this year to 9,550.

That figure is now a staggering 40 per cent higher than the 6,844 who arrived at the same point last year.

\u200bMigrants aboard a small boat

Less boats are being pushed out but more frequently


That number outstrips the 36 per cent reduction in small boat migrant numbers achieved across 2023.

The maritime source said the apparent shift in people smuggling tactics was "likely an effort to ensure more boats make it across, by targeting days when authorities are not expecting launches."

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The unacceptable number of people who continue to cross the Channel demonstrates exactly why we must get flights to Rwanda off the ground as soon as possible.

“We continue to work closely with French police who are facing increasing violence and disruption on their beaches as they work tirelessly to prevent these dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journeys.

"Last year they stopped 26,000 people from reaching our shores.

“We remain committed to building on the successes that saw arrivals drop by more than a third last year, including tougher legislation and agreements with international partners, in order to save lives and stop the boats.”

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