Near-record 319 migrants arrive after crossing Channel, with dozens making landfall

The arrival of 319 more people takes the year's total beyond 6,000 - three times as many as last year

Border force collecting inflatables
Border Force dealt with 27 incidents on Friday Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

More than 300 migrants reached Britain on 27 small boats on Friday, with dozens of people landing on beaches, 

The arrival of 319 more people takes the year's total beyond 6,000 - three times as many as last year.

It is understood at least 73 people reached the shores of Kent, with many landing at Kingsdown, near Deal, while a group of 33 arrived on a huge green inflatable boat around 9am.

Sea conditions are said to have been ideal for making the perilous journey across the Dover Strait - the world's busiest shipping lane - with good visibility, although it was very cold.

Lifeboats from Dover, Dungeness and Walmer had been launched to support Border Force officers.

Police tracked down "a number of suspected migrants" at Kingsdown.

Three migrants were found near the beach three hours after they landed Credit: STEVE FINN 

A force spokesman said: "Kent Police assisted Border Force after a report of suspected migrants seen near South Road, Kingsdown, at 9am."

The group, which included men, women and four children, were pictured standing at the side of the road near Kingsdown Beach in the morning.

Border Force officers gave the children blue rubber gloves to play with to keep them entertained. They sat on the ground and blew them up and were pictured grinning.

Some of the adults lay on the floor and looked exhausted after making the treacherous trip.

And one man repeatedly told onlookers: "I want to go to London."

The record for a single day was set on September 3, with 416 arrivals, and so far, more than 800 have made the journey this month.

Dover's Tory MP Natalie Elphicke said yesterday: "I fully appreciate the strength of feeling about the continued small boats crossings. With around 6,000 illegal entrants this year alone, it is entirely unacceptable.

"I am working hard on this, and the Government has outlined a number of steps that it is taking to tackle this issue."

Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, Dan O’Mahoney, added:

“This morning I was out on a cutter in the Channel working with Border Force officers dealing with these boats. The unseaworthy vessels I saw provided further evidence that these crossings, so often facilitated by criminals, are risking people’s lives. We are working with the French to make this route completely unviable, and this morning the French prevented more people from embarking on this perilous journey – but we know the numbers arriving are still too high.

“These migrants are leaving France which is a safe country. Those seeking refuge can and should claim asylum there, rather than attempting these dangerous crossings to the UK.”