Twelve adult male migrants detained off Dover coast

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Border Force officers were deployed to bring the migrants to Dover

Twelve more migrants in two separate boats have been detained off the coast of Dover as the local MP questioned why there was not more security in France.

At about 03:00 GMT HM Coastguard received reports of a dinghy containing four men approaching the coast.

Six hours later the Maritime Intelligence Bureau was notified of a small boat carrying Iranian men.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said they were "working closely" with their French counterparts.

All of the migrants were taken to Dover and given a medical assessment before being transferred to immigration officials to be interviewed.

In the first boat, one of the adults was found to be Syrian, the rest were Iranian.

'Returned to France'

Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said: "We need to make it really clear to the migrants and the gangs that if you try and do this you will be detected early, either as you're preparing to leave or as soon as you're in the water you'll be returned to France.

"But I think we should be working with the French Authorities on policing that, and making that happen. But also understand why is it these people are not in the asylum system already? Why have they not claimed asylum?"

Image source, Gendarmerie maritime
Image caption,
A third boat containing 11 migrants was found by French authorities on Thursday

As of 28 December, at least 221 people, including 14 children, had crossed the Channel in small boats since 3 November.

Mr Collins added: "We're quite good at spotting vessels approaching the UK and either bringing them in, escorting them in, or having Border Force agents waiting for them when they land.

"This is the busiest shopping lane in the world and it's probably the most closely monitored. But what I don't understand is why are we not doing more to stop the boats leaving France in the first place?"

Bridget Chapman, from Kent Refugee Action Network, said the UK paid to "beef-up" the security around Calais, including the putting up of a large fence to prevent people accessing trains and lorries.

She said that had made people "resort to other methods to get here", adding: "I expect people traffickers are exploiting people, saying, you know, things are going to tighten up after Brexit, you need to go now."

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said: "The number of incidents over recent days is deeply concerning.

"Some of this is clearly facilitated by organised crime groups while other attempts appear to be opportunistic."

She said UK authorities were working closely with their French counterparts in a recently-opened joint intelligence centre in Calais to target people smugglers.

She reiterated that attempting to cross the Channel in a dinghy was "extremely dangerous" and warned that people were putting their lives at risk to do so.

The people found off the Kent coast since November:

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

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