Border Force intercept boat with 34 men, women and children on board in Channel

A group of 34 men, women and children have been detained by Border Force officials after crossing the Channel in a small boat.

Two Border Force cutters and a coastal patrol vessel intercepted the small rigid-hulled inflatable boat at around 6.30am on Monday.

The Home Office said the suspected migrants, whose nationalities have yet to be confirmed, have been taken to Dover for immigration officials to interview them.

Kent Police said its officers attended the Port of Dover at around 11am on Monday to assist Border Force with the incident.

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Today Border Force responded to an incident in the Channel involving a small boat containing 34 people. The group were brought to Dover and have been transferred to immigration officials for interview.

"Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December we have tripled the number of cutters operating in the Channel, agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.

"The number of individuals attempting to cross the Channel decreased from around 250 in December to around 90 in January, with roughly half of the January attempts being intercepted by partners in France before they could make it to British waters."

In December, Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a "major incident" following an increase in attempts to cross the Channel in small boats.

In 2018, more than 500 migrants tried to travel to the UK on small vessels, with four in five of them attempting the journey in the final three months of the year.

Around 40% of the attempts were either disrupted by French law enforcement or returned to France via French agencies.

In response to the increase in incidents, Mr Javid ordered two Border Force boats to be redeployed from overseas to patrol the Channel.