Migrants cross English Channel to UK for first time in 2024 | UK News

Migrants crossing the English Channel to the UK have been reported for the first time in 2024.

Arrivals had not been recorded since 16 December, according to Home Office figures, with poor weather conditions potentially contributing to the lack of activity at sea.

It means there had been 27 days of no crossings until today.

This is the longest gap in small boat arrivals for just over five years.

It is also the first time no Channel crossings took place on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day, for five years.

A group of people believed to be migrants were seen being brought to shore in Dover, Kent, this morning.

They were seen arriving in a Border Force vessel.

This means the number of migrants crossing the Channel has fallen year-on-year for the first time since current records began in 2018.

The provisional annual total for crossings in 2023 – 29,437 – is 36% lower than the record 45,774 crossings for the whole of 2022. But the 2023 figure is still the second highest annual total on record, above the figure for 2021 (28,526).

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A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, in the early hours of this morning
The suspected migrants were taken ashore on a Border Force vessel

The 27 day period of no crossings before today is the longest since a hiatus of 48 days between 2 September and 19 October 2018, government data shows.

Home Secretary James Cleverly insisted the weather was not a “contributory factor” to falling migrant crossings when questioned last week, highlighting how the number of good sailing days recorded by officials for the year was only four fewer than the previous period.

He claimed 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”.

The government argued the figures were evidence of the UK’s £480m agreement with France to beef up efforts to stop migrants making the journey starting to pay off and 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.

Mr Cleverly also set himself a target of meeting Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s “stop the boats” pledge by the end of the year – a deadline Downing Street later refused to repeat.