RNLI members ‘disenchanted’ as lifeboats become a ‘taxi service for migrants’, says ex-lifeguard

RNLI members ‘disenchanted’ as lifeboats become a ‘taxi service for migrants’, says ex-lifeguard

WATCH NOW: RNLI member discusses 200 year anniversary

GB News
Georgia Pearce

By Georgia Pearce

Published: 04/03/2024

- 19:05

Nearly 3,000 migrants have crossed the Channel in 2024 alone

A former RNLI crew member has issued a warning for the future of the maritime charity service, as it celebrates its 200th anniversary.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has saved over 150,000 lives since its founding in 1824, operating across the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

But increasingly, the role of the lifeboat charity is being questioned because of how it assists the Border Force police to rescue migrants who are illegally crossing the English Channel.

This comes as more than 660 migrants have crossed the English Channel in small boats in the last 48 hours alone, GB News can exclusively reveal.

RNLI boat and David Wimble

David Wimble says the RNLI are 'disenchanted' with migrant rescues

PA / GB News

The latest arrivals take the total number of migrants crossing to the UK more than 900 in just six days. The total number of migrants who have crossed into Britain since the beginning of the year is now 2,918.

A Home Office spokesperson has said their priority is "to stop the boats" and is why they are taking "robust action" to crack down on people smuggling gangs and deter migrants from making dangerous crossings.

Former RNLI crew member David Wimble said the ethos of the charity has "never changed", and has always avoided discriminating against "anything gender, politics or religion".

Wimble praised the work of the crews over the last 200 years and said it's "all about saving lives at sea" for the lifeguards.


The RNLI is celebrating its 200th anniversary this year


However, Wimbles revealed that certain areas of the UK, such as the South East, have voiced their concerns for the growing number of migrant crossings they are needing to assist Border Force with.


Wimbles told GB News: "Some of the crews have voiced privately that they're a bit disenchanted with the fact that they are being used, to quote you, as a taxi service without any financial reward from the government.

"If you take into account the fact that the RNLI is wholly funded by volunteer contributions, some people have even said they leave legacies for them in their wills."

Wimbles added: "Somebody that I know personally, who was planning on leaving them a large amount of money, stated that they wouldn't do it, all the time they were acting as a taxi service."

At its worst, Wimbles stated that the RNLI were being forced to intervene "at least four times a day", and that the operation is "a very expensive business".

David Wimble

David Wimble says the South East operations are the most affected by migrant crossings

GB News

He explained: "Some people might give them more money, but I would say the majority of people don't think that it's being used in the way that William Hillary set it up for, which was purely to save lives at sea.

"In defence of the RNLI, I think there's about 238 stations around the whole of the UK, and the migrant crisis probably reflects on about four or five of them, Dover being the main one with Dungeness, Rye and and a few others.

"We very rarely get boats actually turning up on the beaches here anymore. It used to be a daily occurrence, and it used to really annoy me that you could have 100, 200, 300 people in a day turn up and you wouldn't read about it on any of the mainstream media. It was almost a given. And down here in the South East, it really is notable."

The Home Office said: '"Our relentless action reduced crossings by 36 per cent last year, despite numbers soaring by 80 per cent in the Mediterranean, and more than 26,000 attempts were prevented."

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