Migrants filmed clambering onboard inflatable to cross the Channel in exclusive GB News drone footage

A GB News team saw French police and migrants face-off amid record numbers of Channel crossings

Published Last updated

GB News has witnessed the cat and mouse tactics between French police and Channel migrants, as authorities face an almost impossible task of mounting effective patrols over many miles of French coastline.

Over several days, the GB News team saw police using beach buggies to intercept groups of migrants, before dispering them with tear gas.

But whenever the police move on to chase other pockets of migrants, the criminal gangs re-group and make a dash for the sea again.

On a stretch of coastline at Gravelines, between Calais and Dunkirk, the team witnessed multiple attempts to reach the water.

When French police arrived, the migrants ran back into the dunes, to wait until the authorities move on.

Despite some successes, there are far too many miles of coastline for French police to mount a fully effective presence.

GB News captured drone footage of the situation at Gravelines
GB News captured drone footage of the situation at Gravelines

A GB News drone filmed as one boat managed to reach the water and head out into the Channel.

We counted 50 people clambering onboard the inflatable, some struggling to get to the boat as it picked up speed.

One boat being pushed into the Channel
One boat being pushed into the Channel

The beach at Gravelines is one of the people smugglers’ favoured locations for attempting the crossing.

The evidence of migrants is everywhere around the local area, discarded clothing and other items litters the shoreline and the dunes along the tourist beaches.

As concerning as the small boat crisis undoubtedly is for those in the UK, for people living along the north west coast of France, the impact is huge.

The scene on the beach at Gravelines
The scene on the beach at Gravelines

In a supermarket car park in Dunkirk, GB News spoke to a group of young Eritrean men, just sitting around, drinking Jack Daniels and smoking cannabis in broad daylight.

The men said they desperately wanted to get to the UK and that they were waiting around to make their next attempt to cross.

The people smuggling gangs can charge more than £5,000 per person for a spot on one of the small boats.

French authorities are struggling to police miles of coastline
French authorities are struggling to police miles of coastline

But many of the criminal gangs have been slashing their prices, some down to £1,500 for the trip and advertising on social media.

For the thousands of migrants who still choose to hide in the back of lorries, the price is far cheaper, if they use the people smuggling gangs. If they hide aboard themselves, it costs nothing.

Latest figures showed that around 9,000 migrants were detected in the backs of lorries in the space of a year.

The people smugglers have become expert at reading the prevailing tide and weather conditions.

Our team filmed dozens of lifejackets, hardly even hidden among the dunes, waiting for the next group to grab them as they attempt to cross the Channel.

Lifejackets waiting to be grabbed for the next attempt to cross the Channel
Lifejackets waiting to be grabbed for the next attempt to cross the Channel

The team also discovered personal papers and other documents, disgarded by the migrants on the instructions of the people smugglers, to make identifying them more difficult for UK authorities.

Among the papers were application forms for asylum in countries including Belgium.

Further down the beach, they found a deflated small boat, slashed along the sides, more evidence of the French police tactic of trying to puncture the inflatables, if they can get to them in time.

The vast majority of small boats and their human cargo still manage to make it across the English Channel, more than 20,500 so far this year.

Thousands more to add to the tens of thousands who’ve already entered the UK asylum system.