The number of migrants to have arrived in the UK in small boats across the Channel is approaching the 10,000 mark as two more vessels arrived on Sunday.

A total of 103 people made the crossing in two boats on Saturday bringing the total so far this year, not including Sunday’s arrivals, to 9,803.

This compares to 7,217 by the same date last year and 8,693 in 2022, 3,112 in 2021 and 1,492 in 2020.

There were 29,437 arrivals across the whole of 2023, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

The Labour Party says that its analysis of the Home Office figures shows that the small boat arrivals have been at a “record pace” with 201 boats having made the crossing up to Saturday.

A spokesman for the party said that the number of people is up 36% on the same point last year and 13% higher than 2022.

He added: “The average occupancy of boats crossing the Channel this year has so far been just under 49 people per boat.

“That compares to an average occupancy up to the same point of the year of almost 20 people per boat in 2021, just over 33 people per boat in 2022, and around 42.5 people per boat in 2023.

“That increase in average occupancy can also be seen by comparing the number of people who have crossed the Channel in the first 200 boats of each year.

“In 2021, the first 200 boats of the year brought just 3,898 people across the Channel. In 2022, that total rose to almost 6,466, and in 2023, it rose again to 9,209. But this year, the first 200 boats have brought more than 9,750 people.”

He added: “Another indication that the boats crossing the Channel this year are much more crowded and unsafe than usual comes from the number of people rescued by the French authorities after getting into difficulty early in their journey.

“As of 18th May, 1,737 people have been taken back to the French coast after attempting to cross the Channel, almost 70% more than were rescued over the same period last year (1,027).

“Fourteen people are also known to have died so far this year on the French side of the Channel while attempting to make the crossing, including two seven year-old girls.”

Stephen Kinnock MP, Labour’s shadow immigration minister, said: “This milestone is yet more evidence that the Tories’ plans are fundamentally failing.

“Thousands of people have crossed the Channel since the Government’s Rwanda bill passed, with crossings up a third on last year already.

“The figures also show that criminal smuggler gangs are piling more and more people into each unseaworthy boat, putting lives at even greater risk.

“We urgently need to tackle this crisis at source and upstream, with Labour’s new Border Security Command, which will put hundreds of new specialist investigators, officers and prosecutors to work using tough new counter-terror powers to smash the gangs who are undermining Britain’s border security and putting innocent people’s lives at risk.”

Women and children were among those seen being taken off the first of the boats to arrive on Sunday morning as they were taken into Dover onboard a Border Force vessel.

A Home Office spokesman 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.”