Major incident declared after string of migrant Channel crossings over Christmas

The Home Secretary has declared the rising number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel a "major incident".

Sajid Javid has asked for an urgent call with his French counterpart in a bid to tackle the problem which has seen attempts by migrants to cross the Channel over the Christmas period.

After two boats carrying 12 men from Syria and Iran were intercepted while they attempted to make the crossing on Friday, Mr Javid also appointed a "gold commander" to oversee the situation and give daily updates.

He has also held a conference call with officials in the Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and the National Crime Agency (NCA) where he was briefed on the latest intelligence and action being taken.

On Friday, Border Force officials brought the 12 men to shore at Dover and handed them over to immigration officials to be interviewed.

An inflatable boat, carrying one Syrian and three Iranians, was reported to the Coastguard at around 3am. And at around 9am a second boat, which was carrying eight Iranians, was also spotted.

On Christmas Day more than 40 migrants tried to cross the sea and enter the UK.

Border Force patrol boat
On Christmas Day more than 40 migrants tried to cross the sea and enter the UK (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Boxing Day saw three more migrants intercepted in a small boat, and on Thursday an inflatable boat carrying nine people was rescued by a lifeboat crew three miles off the coast of Sandgate in Kent.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes will visit Border Force officers in Dover on Saturday, alongside Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, to discuss the situation.

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