More than 18,000 migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year

More than 18,000 migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year – after 337 reached the UK by boat on Saturday

  • Milestone was broken five days after 696 people were rescued by Border Force 
  • Figures show that 1,709 people have been brought to the UK so far in August
  • That is more than half of the 3,053 people rescued in August 2021 
  • 12,840 have made the crossing since Priti Patel announced the Rwanda deal

More than 18,000 migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year, Ministry of Defence figures suggest.

On Saturday, 337 people reached the UK in 10 small boats, bringing the total number of people brought this year to 18,108.

The milestone was broken just five days after 696 people were rescued by Border Force and brought to shore on Monday, the busiest day for Channel crossings so far this year.

Analysis of the MoD’s provisional figures shows 1,709 people have been brought to the UK so far in August.

That is more than half of the 3,053 people rescued in August 2021.

The vast majority were brought to shore in Dover, however many were taken to the Port of Ramsgate due to concerns about congestion around the Dover port caused by freight and holidaymaker traffic.

Border Force escorted 25 migrants back to Dover yesterday morning after they were picked up in the English Channel

On Saturday, 337 people reached the UK in 10 small boats, bringing the total number of people brought this year to 18,108

A Border Force Volunteer rescue boat returning from the English Channel

The busiest week for crossings so far in 2022 was the week to April 19 when 2,076 people made the dangerous journey across the Channel.

Four in 10 Channel migrants are from ALBANIA – not a country devastated by war of famine – secret military file reveals


Four in ten migrants crossing the Channel in small boats are from peaceful Albania where there has not been a war for 25 years, a secret military intelligence report leaked to The Mail on Sunday reveals.

The explosive document – marked ‘Official Sensitive’ – shows that almost three times as many migrants arriving on the UK’s shores from France come from the Balkans country compared with anywhere else. It is the first time that an official report has exposed how the largest proportion of those making illegal crossings appear to be economic migrants abusing Britain’s generous asylum system.

The report, exclusively revealed today by The Mail on Sunday, follows a surveillance operation by the Royal Navy and defence intelligence experts of nine criminal gangs believed to be masterminding the majority of crossings. 

However, it is likely crossings will continue into next week, with the Met Office confirming that warm weather and calm winds are set to continue in the south east of England.

Figures show that 12,840 people have made the crossing since Priti Patel announced the Rwanda deal on April 14.

The news comes after a report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the British Red Cross, published on Wednesday, found that critical gaps in the UK asylum system mean people seeking safety, including those fleeing modern slavery, may be at risk of potential exploitation.

The research found that inadequate support is exposing people in need of protection to potential harm.

It cites examples of vulnerable asylum seekers forced into modern slavery, including domestic servitude, sexual and labour exploitation and forced criminality.

The report concludes: ‘Straightforward changes to the asylum process would reduce these risks of exploitation by putting safety at the heart of the asylum system.’

The Home Office said it is considering the findings of the report.

A spokesman said: ‘We take the safety and wellbeing of thousands of people in asylum accommodation support extremely seriously and are committed to ensuring that individuals are protected from the heinous crime of modern slavery.

‘Where we suspect an asylum seeker is in danger or at risk of exploitation, we will take the appropriate action, such as working with the police or supporting someone through the national referral mechanism.

‘We would urge any asylum seeker who may be in trouble to report it immediately.

‘Our new plan for immigration will fix the broken asylum system, enabling us to grant protection to those entitled to it and to remove those with no right to be here more quickly.’

Figures show that 12,840 people have made the crossing since Priti Patel announced the Rwanda deal on April 14

‘Ask an Albanian schoolboy about his future and he’ll draw a boat heading to the UK’: Shocking revelation from a reporter in Albania, where one town dubbed ‘Little London’ is filled with British cars and almost every family has links to Britain  

By Mark Hookham For The Mail On Sunday

Wearing bright orange life jackets, a long line of migrants, all young men in their 20s and 30s, strode up a gangway at Dover yesterday and possibly into a new life in Britain.

They had just been rescued from an inflatable boat drifting in the English Channel – one of at least eight vessels carrying around 250 asylum seekers that made the perilous 20-mile journey across the Strait of Dover.

The men were the latest to reach the UK as part of a criminal enterprise in which people smuggling gangs cram migrants on to overloaded boats before launching them into the world’s busiest shipping lane.

The scene unfolded as a secret military intelligence report, leaked to The Mail on Sunday, exposes in extraordinary detail how the gangs masterminding this trafficking are operating this summer and – crucially – the nationality of those paying up to £5,500 for a place on a boat.

Using satellites and a fleet of drones, analysts based at an operations centre in Portsmouth tracked 70 boats that made the crossing over a six-week period in June and July and mapped the beaches where they were launched from.

They revealed how the ruthless gangs are operating from a 90-mile stretch of the French coastline from Fort-Mahon-Plage near the town of Berck to Bray-Dunes near Dunkirk.

A Royal Navy intelligence unit examined inflatable boats seized after landing on beaches on the English south coast or towed ashore by the Border Force for further clues about the criminal gangs.

About 40 migrants carry an inflatable boat towards the water before they attempt to cross the Channel to Britain

According to the astonishing dossier handed to The Mail on Sunday, defence chiefs now believe nine competing Organised Crime Groups (OCGs) are targeting Britain as part of a sophisticated international criminal web.

The groups collectively smuggled 2,862 migrants across the Channel between June 1 and July 12, with many obtaining their inflatable boats from manufacturers in China.

The file – marked official sensitive – reveals that the largest proportion of those making the illegal crossings appear to be economic migrants and not refugees.

A total of 1,075 of those who made the crossing were from Albania – an impoverished but peaceful country where there has been no war since 1997, when an economic crisis sparked an outbreak of violence.

A World Bank report states that after strong GDP growth last year, the proportion of the population living in poverty in Albania ‘dropped significantly’ from 31 per cent to 22 per cent in 2021. Unemployment, however, remains high in the north of the country, where many of those who arrive in the UK come from.

‘If you go to a secondary school in northern Albania and children are asked to describe how they see their future, all the boys draw a lorry or a boat with an Albanian flag going to the UK,’ said Muhamed Veliu, a political correspondent with Top Channel TV in Albania.

The town of Kukes, near the border with Kosovo, is known as ‘Little London’ and its streets are full of cars bought in the UK. Nearly every family is believed to have links to Britain.

Mr Veliu said: ‘They know how well their relatives are doing – they get employment in the UK and are settled. They think, “Why should we waste our time in northern Albania not doing anything? Let’s go to the UK, work and come back with a flashy car like others who went before us.” ’

This map shows sites on the French coast where boats have been launched by one of the gangs trafficking migrants

The revelation about the number of Albanians crossing the Channel is a boost for Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has argued most people who travel to the UK in small boats are not genuine asylum seekers.

After hearing about the leaked report, Natalie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, said last night: ‘Everyone knows Albanians are not fleeing from war or persecution. This is plainly illegal economic migration organised by criminal people smuggling gangs.’

Each OCG has been assigned a codename – many taken from Greek mythology. The most prolific group – dubbed Dragon – transported 887 migrants, including 278 from Albania, with an average of 52 people crammed on to each boat.

The document reveals how two of the gangs – Dragon and Lotus – have boats made to order by factories in China with extra tube sections inserted to lengthen them and increase the number of people who can be loaded on board.

The report says: ‘It is likely that OCGs using Chinese inflatable boats have altered the stock models to leave off unnecessary features in order to lower the cost and speed up manufacturing time.’

It has now emerged that an international police operation on July 5 smashed one of the gangs under surveillance by the military team. 

Detectives seized 1,200 life jackets, 150 rubber boats, almost 50 engines, firearms, drugs and £33,753 in cash after raids against the Dragon network. A total of 39 people were arrested, including six in the UK.

A statement by Europol after the raids highlighted the violent nature of the vile trade. 

It said: ‘The competition for control of the lucrative migrant smuggling business and for launch sites for the boats regularly resulted in acts of serious violence inside the criminal network, including two attempted murders… in France and Germany.’

The dossier also said gangs named Colossus and Behemoth operate the biggest inflatable boats and collectively smuggled 546 people over the six weeks.

A huge sandy beach at the sleepy holiday resort of Gravelines, between Calais and Dunkirk, is used as a launch site by five of the gangs, the report reveals.

On July 11 a large group of almost exclusively male migrants was pictured carrying an inflatable boat through the waves and launching it off the beach. 

The leaked report indicates that the crossing was arranged by either the Lotus, Colossus or Hydra gangs. Hours later large numbers of migrants were brought ashore by the Border Force at Dover in Kent.

Despite the beach being pinpointed as an epicentre of people smuggling, The Mail on Sunday did not see any patrols by French police when a reporter visited yesterday.

Elia Carpentier, 20, who works in the Gravelines tourist office on the beachfront, told how she had seen a boat full of migrants leave the beach at 7pm on Friday.

‘I was really surprised because normally they leave when the sun goes down or at dawn,’ she said. ‘The boat waited for them at the edge of the water. I’m not sure how many got on but there were men, women and children in the group.’

TikTok videos show dozens of Albanian migrants making the crossing, with this group unfurling the nation’s flag on the boat

Miss Carpentier added that she had seen ‘more than 100’ migrants walking through Gravelines on Friday at lunchtime as she made her way to work.

‘It was probably the biggest group I’ve seen,’ she said. ‘They don’t hide themselves. The police let them go. Before, they would arrest them to keep them safe, but now there’s too many of them so they let them be.’

She added that it was an open secret where the migrants hid before boarding dinghies.

‘They come from Dunkirk by bus because it’s free,’ she explained. 

‘When they arrive they walk through the centre of Gravelines down to the beach. You know them when you see them as they tend to stay in groups. At the far end of the beach there is a campsite and beyond that is a forest. They set up camp there for one or two nights before waiting for a boat.’

Until recent years the preferred method for smuggling people across the Channel was in the back of a lorry. But improved security at French and UK ports has increased the risk of detection – and the price people smugglers charge. 

They are now believed to charge £22,000 to smuggle someone in a lorry, compared with £5,500 to make the crossing on an inflatable boat.

Albanian gangsters often act as middlemen in the cross-Channel people smuggling operations and then force some of those they have helped traffic to work as ‘slaves’ in their empires in the UK or recruit others as willing foot soldiers.

After seizing control of almost the entire UK cocaine market, Albanian organised crime has now begun to dominate the illegal cultivation of cannabis in Britain.

The criminals often flaunt their wealth on Facebook and TikTok – posing with piles of cash and luxury cars – in a bid to attract even more young people to leave Albania and attempt the Channel crossing.

Human traffickers also advertise their services on TikTok, with dozens of videos showing Albanians making the crossing. In one video posted last month, a large group of Albanian men unfurled their national flag as their boat headed towards the English coastline.

The Mail on Sunday understands that Gledis Nano, general director of the Albanian State Police, last month met police chiefs at the National Crime Agency in London to discuss people smuggling and how to crack down on Albanian organised crime.

A UK Government spokesman said: ‘The Nationality and Borders Act makes it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally and we have introduced life sentences for those who facilitate illegal entry into the country. Since the introduction of the act, 26 people have been arrested.’

How many become foot soldiers for crime gang bosses here? RICHARD TICE asks, as shock figures reveal around 40 per cent of migrants arriving by boat to the UK are from war-free Albania

ByRichard Tice, Leader Of The Reform Party 

Nobody likes being taken for a fool – but that is the way voters have been treated over migrant crossings.

It is bad enough that Home Secretary Priti Patel has been unable to stop ever larger groups of individuals coming to the UK by this perilous and illegal route. Worse, we now know that we have been duped.

All this time, an army of well-intentioned but misguided Left-wing politicians, lawyers and do-gooders have been spinning the line that the vast majority of people who make these dangerous journeys are desperately fleeing war, persecution and terror. 

It’s a narrative that suits the Government, playing into the generosity and compassion of the British people who believe that this country should offer refuge to innocent foreign nationals fleeing bullets and bombs.

Unfortunately, all too often it’s rubbish.

The public have been ‘duped’ when it comes to migrants crossing the Channel, writes Richard Tice. Pictured: A group of migrants brought into Dover on a Border Force vessel on Thursday

For the first time ever – thanks to a leak – voters can see exactly where passengers on these inflatable boats have come from. 

The uncomfortable truth? Almost 40 per cent hail from Albania. Yes, 13 per cent come from Afghanistan and six per cent from Syria.

They may well be in genuine need of refuge. But they are a minority. Others come from stable regimes including Turkey, Egypt, Vietnam and even India.

Why has the Government hidden this information? After all, it changes everything.

If these people are not genuinely fleeing for their lives, then it is not up to the British taxpayer to support them.

Both Tory leadership candidates are standing on platforms of trust and integrity. Both have pledged to tackle the illegal crossings.

Don’t get me wrong – Albania is no land of luxury. Many live below the poverty line and corruption is rife. Nonetheless, it is a peaceful place with a rapidly growing economy. 

It is also a member of Nato and applying to join the EU. Albanians who make the long journey across Europe to the French coast are not therefore running for their lives. They have other agendas.

Why don’t they just apply for a 180-day visa to visit? Is it a coincidence that Albanian criminal gangs are now among the biggest and most notorious in the UK? 

Is it possible that many of these Albanians migrants are in fact foot soldiers for criminal gangs, replacing those who have been locked up? 

What if they are being trapped in modern-day slavery in black market businesses operated by Albanian gangs?

Richard Tice (pictured), leader of the Reform Party, says: ‘The country of origin of migrants should be published monthly so nobody is under any illusions’

We deserve answers to these critical questions. The crisis costs British taxpayers billions of pounds every year at a time when Rishi Sunak says we cannot afford tax cuts to grow the economy and when millions are petrified about how to pay their food and heating bills.

The Government knows within days which countries Channel migrants are from. The military know exactly where they are setting off from on the French coast. They even know who supplies the boats.

So why are these individuals still staggering on to our beaches?

It is now time for the Government to tell the real story. The country of origin of migrants should be published monthly so nobody is under any illusions.

We must immediately share information about launch points with the French police and that data should also be published. Information is power.

Thirdly, Border Force must stop accepting migrants from the French navy at the half-way point and instead implement a new ‘pick-up-and-take-back’ policy for all migrants, returning them to France under the existing 1974 Safety of Life at Sea laws.

This would stop this vile trade in its tracks – and restore the confidence of the majority of British people that we have taken back control of our borders.

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