Border Force is facing questions over migrants who evade their patrols in the English Channel amid concerns that the true number of crossings has been underestimated and “high harm criminals” could be arriving in the UK undetected.
On Monday an overloaded dinghy carrying ten men landed on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent, in the latest wave of Channel crossings.
The group of suspected migrants were heard shouting out as the vessel neared the shore, and were seen leaping out and running across the beach towards some scattered trees. Photographs showed a bemused angler watching the incident from the shore, with the masked group of men running up the beach and past him.
Kent Police and Coastguard officials were seen talking to members of the public in the village and on the seafront following the landing, and it is understood that some of the men were located.
The dinghy was later towed back out to sea where it was taken on board Border Force cutter Seeker, which arrived in the area soon after the landings.
On Monday night MPs expressed concerns that some migrants are evading the authorities amid suggestions that "enforcement vessels" should be stepped up in the Channel.
Natalie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, told The Telegraph: "In recent weeks residents have reported to me increasing numbers of illegal migrants reaching our local beaches and then running off into the woods and fields.
"They tell me that they fear not everyone who is landing illegally is now being picked up and that some may be evading the authorities. I understand those concerns and am raising this issue with police and the Home Office.
“It’s not simply a matter of more resources to pick illegal entrants up, it’s a matter of stopping these landings altogether. That‘s what I have been working hard on, calling for more effective action to put an end to the small boat crossings.”
Bob Blackman, the Conservative MP for Harrow East, added: "I've suggested that we need to increase our presence in the English Channel of enforcement vessels.
"I think vessels are the start, because on a wider and wider scale people are trying to make these journeys because they know certain beaches aren’t policed and so they have a greater chance of getting into the country undetected.
"We have to take action on this. We cannot allow a position to grow where these evil people traffickers are able to profit from it."
Lucy Moreton, from the Immigration Services Union, which represents immigration and customs workers says that criminals will try to evade Border Force patrols and reach the UK undetected.
“Most that make landfall are happy to just wait to be collected but there are always a minority who do not,” she told the Telegraph.
“Since we don’t catch them, the reason why they might do this is speculative but it is most likely because they have a criminal or immigration record either in the UK or in the EU that they do not want us to know. Those who genuinely wish to seek assistance from the UK government do wait.
“We know just under half of those who make the crossing in this way have one or more failed asylum claims in Europe.
“Some are high harm criminals who are detained on arrival to enable return, for example in response to a European arrest warrant. Understandably those who know they will face arrest are less keen to remain in place to be collected.”
On Monday, six miles down the coast Kingsdown, more migrants were taken into the port of Dover.
People wearing blankets and lifejackets were seen on board Border Force patrol boat Hunter before being escorted up a gangway.
This year, more than 6,100 people have crossed the channel illegally, more than three times the number in 2019. It is thought at least another five boats arrived on Monday, carrying as many as 60 people.
Calls for the Royal Navy to be deployed have grown amid fears that Border Force cannot collect everyone and some may be entering the country without officials noticing.
“There are simply too many of them for Border Force, RNLI and Coastguard to identify and pick up en route,” said Ms Moreton.
Last week, a group of four women were pictured hiding in bushes at Kingsdown golf course, before being located by Border Force officials and police.
While last month a group of 11 migrants was found by police attempting to cross the A20 near Dover.