During the first six months of last year 24,800 migrants tried to illegally sneak into the UK
New figures show 24,800 were seized attempting to enter the UK illegally during the first six months of last year.
But as the historic vote on June 23 approached, the rate of detection increased and 5,900 were caught at the border in June – one every eight minutes.
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The statistics show how many illegals were successfully intercepted by Border Force but no-one knows how many more made it through undetected. Shocked MPs said the number caught was bound to be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth, said: “These are truly horrendous and shocking figures. We are seeing thousands of people being stopped from entering the UK illegally so can be almost certain that thousands more are making it through. It’s clear much more needs to be done to crack down on this problem.”
The vast scale of illegal immigration increased leading up to the referendum in June
The previously unseen Border Force data relates to entry attempts at British border controls in Calais, Coquelles, Dunkirk, Lille, Paris and Brussels.
We are seeing thousands of people being stopped from entering the UK illegally
David Davies, the Tory MP for Monmouth
Calais and Dunkirk are among the busiest ferry terminals in the world while Lille, Paris and Brussels are major termini for the Eurostar service through the Channel Tunnel. Coquelles is the Calais terminal for the Eurostar service.
The majority of migrants are thought to have been caught at the smuggling hotspot of Calais where 10,000 migrants were holed up in the notorious “Jungle” camp last summer.
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The figures are the first to suggest migrants were making a rush to cross the Channel from the sprawling camp which was finally demolished in October.
Charlie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, said: “It’s truly shocking 200 migrants tried to break into Britain every day in June. These figures underline why it was so vital to dismantle the Calais Jungle.
The French had allowed it to grow for years with 10,000 people living in the camp by last summer. That’s why we must keep the pressure on the French to stop the Jungle returning – before the first tent is pitched.”
The Daily Express submitted a Freedom of Information request to discover the number of migrants intercepted on the Continent.
In June alone nearly 6000 migrants were caught at the border
Our request was submitted on July 17 and should have been answered by August 16. The Home Office refused to provide an explanation for the lengthy wait, saying “regrettably, delays do occur despite our best efforts”.
The data was finally released this week as the Information Commissioner threatened legal action after confirming the department was in breach of the FOI Act. Officials made public the number of “clandestine entry attempts” but refused to disclose how many individuals had been caught using forged documents.
Although it is not known how many migrants have made it here illegally experts say it is likely at least the same number are successful as are caught.
Ukip leader Paul Nuttall said: “Like many people I strongly suspect the numbers of migrants caught trying to get into the country has continued to rise since June last year and heaven only knows how many get in undetected.
“It is essential we have both a sensible quota system for migrants who can bring the skills and expertise we need and to invest more money in our Border Force to ensure all those who are not welcome here are either stopped on arrival or caught and sent back.”
Home Office figures show the number of migrants trying to reach Britain illegally has been rapidly rising, culminating in a record 84,088 stopped in 2015.
Yet just four months after the Jungle was ripped down refugees are returning to northern France at a rate of more than 100 a week with Francois Guennoc, vice-president of the Auberge des Migrants aid group, saying: “The migrants are coming back and government is in denial about the current situation in Calais.”
There are now thought to be at least six informal migrant settlements in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region and an official camp in Dunkirk.
Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of Migrationwach UK, said: “These are worrying figures that show the continuing and unremitting pressure on our borders. The Government really must make sure those with the job of intercepting and dealing with would-be illegal entrants have the resources they need for this crucial task.”
The majority of the migrants are thought to have been caught at the smuggling hotspot of Calais
The Home Office said: “These detections make absolutely clear that our approach to securing the UK’s border is working.
“Despite our successes in preventing attempts to enter the UK illegally we are not complacent. We will continue to work closely with our French counterparts to maintain border security and keep legitimate passengers and trade moving.”
Number of illegal entry attempts detected at British border controls on the Continent in 2016:
Source: Home Office
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