More than 15,000 illegal migrants tried to reach Britain via the English Channel last year, latest reporting shows.
This site has already revealed an eye-watering 8,417 migrants landed on British soil last year, the highest total on record for a single year.
However, new police data reveals the true extent of the problem as close to double that figure attempted the perilous journey from the continent.
The report from Europol states: “From January to mid-December 2020, law enforcement authorities of concerned countries registered more than 1,300 incidents involving more than 15,000 irregular migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats.
“Most departures took placefrom the north of France, inareas close to Calais and Dunkirk and,to a much lesser extent,from the Belgian coast.”
The report goes on to explain that although for many years, the modus operandi of people traffickers was to smuggle migrants on lorries from Belgium, France and the Netherlands, “more systematic customs controls” introduced in the Channel Tunnel following Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union have “prompted the increasing use of small boats” across the Channel.
Small boats are not the only method of travel preferred by smugglers as “registered sailing vessels and motor yachts are also used to transport irregular migrants under the guise of leisure trips, departing from Belgium or the Netherlands.”
The report paints a bleak picture for the year ahead as it warns the upward trend of attempted crossings has continued into January 2021.
“Successful crossings, attempted crossings or discovery of nautical equipment for crossing have been regularly recorded.”
Another 150 migrants were intercepted by UK Border Force this last weekend alone, undeterred by the freezing conditions in their bid to reach Britain.