260 small boats have reached UK so far this year, GB News confirms
More than 260 small boats have crossed the English Channel into UK waters so far this year, GB News can confirm
Seven small boats were spotted on the English side of the Channel yesterday, and 285 people were transferred onto Border Force and RNLI vessels.
The small inflatable boats are taken initially to Dover harbour, then transferred to and stored in a huge lot near the port, before eventually being disposed of.
In recent months, criminal gangs have sought to procure ever-larger inflatables, which in many cases are being smuggled from Turkey, through Europe, to North West France.
Some of the bigger boats can carry up to 60 migrants, although most have around 40 onboard.
The National Crime Agency has warned the inflatables, which are being made and adapted to order, are inherently unsafe.
27 people died last November when one of the larger inflatables started to deflate and sink half-way across the English Channel.
Last month, Iranian national Hewa Rahimpur was arrested by National Crime Agency officers in east London on suspicion of supplying small boats to the people smugglers.
The NCA described the 29-year-old as a suspected “kingpin” involved in organised crime.
A spokesman said he is alleged to be “A leading figure in a network said by prosecutors to be engaged in systematic human-smuggling offences using small boats.
According to Belgian authorities, Rahimpur is accused of sourcing boats in Turkey and having them delivered to Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, before then directing people smuggling gangs to take them on to the northern French coast.
The investigation began after police seized boats and outboard motors from the back of a car near the Belgian-French border in October 2021.
An extradition process is now under way to have Rahimpur sent to Belgium to stand trial.
GB News can reveal that more than 8,700 people have now been pulled from small boats in the English Channel so far this year.
The figure is more than double the number who crossed at this time last year.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed at the weekend that the first 50 would-be asylum -seekers had been notified they are likely to be flown to Rwanda in the next fortnight.
Last month, the UK signed a £120 million development deal with the Government in Kigali, which included a provision to send some asylum-seekers from the UK for processing in Rwanda.
However, the Prime Minister has acknowledged that any flights leaving for Rwanda could be some months off because of a raft of legal challenges expected in the courts by asylum-seekers, human rights groups, and charities in the weeks ahead.