People smugglers are earning £350,000 a BOAT for Channel crossings: Trafficking
People smugglers are earning £295,000 per boat as Channel crossings rose to 23,000 from 8,500 last year but just five illegal migrants were returned, it emerged today - as Priti Patel's deputy admitted 'we must do better'.
Home Office minister Tom Pursglove was asked by Labour's Yyvette Cooper about the number of illegal arrivals who had been successfully sent back, but at first only revealed 'overall' figures.
Pushed him on the figures for 2021, a red-faced Mr Pursglove replied: 'The answer in this year is five.'
He told the Home Affairs Select Committee: 'Small boat arrivals are becoming the route of choice, facilitated by evil criminal gangs who are becoming more audacious and using larger boats.
'Before we saw boats coming from a 50km stretch of coastline, now it's more like 200km.'
Dan O'Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, told the committee that the illegal trade was becoming particularly lucrative for criminal gangs.
'Two weeks ago we had a single boat with 88 migrants on, each one of them could be paying €4,000, meaning the smugglers could have earned €350,000 a boat.'
MPs asked Mr Murglove about whether migrants who were intercepted on French soil were still being immediately released so they could simply reattempt the crossing again, but he avoided the question.
Yesterday, MailOnline published footage of two 50ft long inflatable dinghies being loaded with up to 40 migrants each on a beach in northern France before being pushed towards Britain by people smugglers.
While French police completely failed to spot the departure, journalists did - filming the migrants as they manhandled the inflatables down from the cliff tops to reach the sea from two remote beaches south of Calais.
Around 100 migrants crossed the Channel by boat yesterday. A total of 1,185 people crossed the Channel last Thursday, eclipsing the previous daily high of 853. On Monday around 40 arrived. There have been more than 20,000 crossings this year, with the UK accusing Paris of failing to do enough to stop them.
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Home Office minister Tom Pursglove - one of Priti Patel's (right) deputies - confirmed that more than 23,000 people have arrived in small boats this year compared to around 8,500 in 2020
Footage filmed yesterday shows dog walkers and a jogger watching in amazement as two separate groups, who had been hiding overnight in the sand dunes, ran to the water's edge with their giant boats.
People smuggling minders waded knee deep in the sea as the migrants clambered aboard for the perilous voyage across the English channel.
A migrant bound for the UK told MailOnline that people traffickers don't travel to the UK on dinghies themselves.
They provide the boat and the lifejackets and take the migrants to the beach to wait for the moment to launch the boat.
Wading in the water up to their knees, the smugglers then help the migrants onto the boat and show them how the engine works before pushing them off the shore towards the UK.
It came as French riots cops began clearing out the Grande-Synthe camp where 1,500 migrants were staying as they tried to get across the Channel into the UK.
Thirty police vans filled with officers from the French national reserve police were on-site yesterday morning as migrants - including women and young children - packed up their belongings and were taken away.
Migrants will be taken to nearby 'centres' so their asylum cases can be assessed and given accommodation in sports halls and other public buildings, local media said. It is unclear how many will be allowed to remain in Europe.
Migrants plunge into Channel in inflatable boat with police nearby
The police operation came just hours after Mr Darmanin spoke with British counterpart Priti Patel migrant crossings in the Channel, which have hit record levels in recent days despite commitments from both sides to reduce them to zero.
Exhausted migrants were seen being carried onto Dungeness Beach yesterday after being taken ashore on an RNLI lifeboat.
Yesterday there were cheers and whoops from one boat as they started their Yamaha outboard engine and headed out into the surf, intent on a new life in the UK.
Most of the two groups were seen wearing bright orange life jackets although a few did not have any buoyancy aids as they left from the beaches near the seaside town of Wimereux
The incredible scenes unfolded without a single police officer being seen anywhere in the area, despite the French authorities having pledged to crack down on migrant boats.
The boats set sail after a MailOnline reporter witnessed lifejackets being openly handed out at a makeshift migrant camp in Grand Synthe near Dunkirk.
Groups of men were seen arriving with bags crammed full of the brand new bright orange life jackets as charities gave out free food and medication on Monday afternoon.
Later several groups of migrants were seen waiting at a nearby bus stop opposite an Auchan superstore, carrying their life jackets in bag.
Migrants en route to UK band together to carry huge dinghy to shore
Migrants in France prepare to cross choppy channel on inflatable boat
What happens to migrants after they have arrived in the UK?
Migrants who have been picked up after landing or intercepted at sea are taken to a Border Force processing centre, such as Tug Haven near Dover.
Here arrivals are triaged to identify any medical needs or vulnerabilities, fed and checked to see if they have a criminal record. Adults have an initial interview before being sent to accommodation centres across Britain, paid for by UK taxpayers and provided by private contractors.
The migrants are given £37.75 per week for essentials like food, clothes and toiletries while they wait for a decision on their asylum application. If the claim is rejected they face deportation back to their home country.
Kent County Council normally takes unaccompanied children into its care, although other local authorities are also involved in this programme.